One of the provisions of the SPS agreement is the obligation for members to facilitate the provision of technical assistance to developing countries, either through relevant international organizations or at the bilateral level. FAO, OIE and WHO have implemented important food, animal and plant security assistance programmes to developing countries. A number of countries also have important bilateral programmes with other WTO members in these areas. The WTO secretariat has organised a programme of regional seminars to provide developing countries (and Central and Eastern European countries) with detailed information on the rights and obligations conferred on them by this agreement. These seminars are organized in collaboration with Codex, OIE and IPPC to ensure that governments are aware of the role these organizations can play in helping countries meet their needs and to take full advantage of the benefits of the SPS agreement. The seminars are open to the participation of private professional associations and consumer organisations. The WTO secretariat also provides technical assistance through national workshops and governments through their representatives in Geneva. Back to the Top Due to climatic differences, existing pests or diseases or food security conditions, it is not always appropriate to impose the same health and plant health requirements on food, animal or plant products from different countries. As a result, sanitary and plant health measures sometimes vary depending on the country of origin of the food, animal or plant product concerned.
This is taken into account in the SPS agreement. Governments should also recognize disease-free areas that may not conform to political boundaries and adapt their needs to the products of those regions. However, the agreement examines unjustified discrimination in the application of sanitary and plant health measures, whether for the benefit of domestic producers or foreign suppliers. The WTO secretariat has prepared this text to promote public understanding of the SPS agreement. There are no plans to provide for a legal interpretation of the agreement. In 2003, the United States challenged a number of EU legislation restricting the importation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in a dispute known as biotech on the grounds that they were „unjustifiable“ and illegal under the SPS agreement. In May 2006, the WTO`s dispute resolution body issued a complex ruling that challenged aspects of the EU GMO regulation, but rejected many of the US claims.