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World organisations commit for food safety

14-Nov-2001

At the recent WTO Conference in Doha, Qatar, five international organisations issued a joint statement committing themselves to help developing countries' participate more fully in setting international norms for sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures - food safety and animal and plant health.



The new statement commits the organisations to strengthendeveloping countries' capacity to establish and implement SPS measures as well as to participate fully in the work of international organisations responsible for setting international standards, guidelines and recommendations. The agencies are also committed to coordinating the technical assistance they give to these countries as part of this effort.



The five organisations are the WTO, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, the International Animal Health Organisation (Office International des Epizooties or OIE), the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the World Bank.



Three organisations or conventions, sometimes unofficially described as the "three sisters", are responsible for international standards, guidelines and recommendations relevant to the WTO SPSAgreement. The OIE handles animal health. The FAO and WHO jointly provide the secretariat of Codex Alimentarius, which deals with food safety. The FAO takes care of the International Plant Protection Convention, related to plant health.



Developing countries say they face problems in exporting food products because they have difficulty meeting standards in importing countries and also because they are unable to participate fully in developing internationally-agreed standards. The joint statement, released at the fourth WTO meeting in Qatar, is designed to address this problem.

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