STC Number - 250

Trade restrictions related to national systems for determining maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides

Maintained by: Unspecified
Raised by: Argentina
Supported by: Unspecified
First date raised: June 2007 G/SPS/R/45 paras. 12-14
Dates subsequently raised:
Number of times subsequently raised: 0
Relevant documents: Raised orally
Products covered: 06 Live trees and other plants; bulbs, roots and the like; cut flowers and ornamental foliage; 07 Edible vegetables and certain roots and tubers; 08 Edible fruit and nuts; peel of citrus fruit or melons
Primary subject keyword: Food safety
Keywords: Food safety; Human health; International Standards / Harmonization; Sufficiency of scientific evidence
Status: Not reported
Date reported as resolved:

Extracts from SPS Committee meeting summary reports

In June 2007, Argentina raised the concern that a number of Members establish maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides at levels that are more restrictive to trade than the levels established by the Codex. These lower MRLs had a particularly negative impact on developing countries, since they often concerned some of the older pesticides on the market. The prices for older pesticides were usually lower than for the newest products, in particular for those products no longer under patent protection. Argentina considered that these Members were not taking into account their obligations under the SPS Agreement, in particular under Article 10.1. Argentina was also concerned regarding the review and maintenance of Codex MRLs for older pesticides, an issue they addressed under the agenda item on monitoring the use of international standards.

Many Members shared Argentina's concern and stressed that MRLs which were not based on those established by Codex should not be maintained without appropriate scientific justification as required by the SPS Agreement. Several suggested that the Committee should analyze the use of and deviations from international standards, to ensure that SPS measures did not present disguised barriers to trade for products from developing countries.

The representative of the Codex noted that the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues had recently adopted new procedures to allow more rapid development of MRLs. If the necessary data were available, it should usually take no more than two years for Codex to establish MRLs for a pesticide in various products.