Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 2010


WVU College of Law


The WTO system requires that trade restrictions meant to protect health and safety be based on a risk assessment supported by “sufficient scientific evidence.” Scholars and international standards organizations have pointed out, however, that science is incapable of providing answers to questions of health and safety without incorporating the risk assessors’ value judgments and assumptions. Before GMO-importing countries conduct risk assessments, GMO-producing and exporting countries have already conducted their own risk assessments, which led to their decision to produce and market the products in the first place. Both the exporting and importing countries’ risk assessments employ science informed by the risk assessors’ value judgments and assumptions. Scrutinizing the exporting and importing countries’ risk assessments, and making their value judgments explicit would level the playing field between GMO-producing and GMO-importing nations in the WTO. Instead of tacitly adopting the GMO-producing country’s value judgments, GMO-importing countries might highlight their distinct, but situationally appropriate, judgments, and defend their risk assessments as supported by scientific evidence informed by those context-appropriate judgments.

Original Publication Title

Boston University International Law Journal

Source Citation

28 Boston U. Int'l L.J. 241


This article is included in the Research Repository @ WVU with the permission of the Boston University International Law Journal.



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