Following the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade), the World Trade Organization (WTO) has
sought to regulate and simplify world trade, including the international trade in animals and
products of animal origin. In 1994 the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement (SPS) was signed.
The animal sanitary aspects of this treaty are based on scientific recommendations and the
standards of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE) in Paris. However there are still
unresolved fundamental questions that pose future challenges, such as animal welfare, the environment and questions arising from the new biotechnology. There are vast discrepancies in
international opinion, and often rich nations are accused of attempting to raise unjustified
trade barriers with new regulations and standards. In this area it is essential - as in the
animal health sector - that recognized international organizations develop scientific standards and rational methods for solving these problems.As some of these problems are also
important for animal health, it would be make sense to increase the scope of authority
of the OIE accordingly.