The precautionary principle in the SPS Agreement: Risk management, public participation and a new standard of review
This dissertation provides a comprehensive critique of the WTO regime regarding applicability of the precautionary principle to trade-restrictive measures, especially within the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement ("SPS"), and seeks to reconcile the science-based requirements of the WTO with the need to reflect public sentiment in the domestic decision-making processes. In order to maintain a sensible balance between health and environment protection and trade liberalization, this dissertation proposes a re-interpretation of the key provisions of the SPS Agreement to show that the precautionary principle is indeed consistent with its rules. It suggests the consideration of non-scientific factors in science-dictated risk analysis through the incorporation of risk management, and promotes public participation and awareness in decision-making based on a model exemplified in the Cartagena Protocol. A "fair and reasonable" standard of review is also proposed, which allows a more flexible interpretation of the SPS Agreement towards the precautionary principle in order to respond to public sentiment in the face of scientific uncertainty.