Animal welfare and international trade.Rev Sci Tech. 2005 Aug; 24(2):747-55.RS
Globalisation is becoming a force that is revolutionising international trade, particularly that of animals and animal products. There is increasing interest in animal welfare worldwide, and as part of its 2001-2005 Strategic Plan the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) identified the development of international standards on animal welfare as a priority. The OIE's scientific approach to standard-setting provides the foundation for the development, and acceptance by all OIE Member Countries, of these animal welfare guidelines. The paper discusses how these guidelines on animal welfare can be implemented, both within the provisions of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements and within the framework of voluntary codes of conduct. Even if animal welfare guidelines are not covered by any WTO agreements in the future, bi- and multilateral agreements, voluntary corporate codes, and transparent labelling of products should result in a progressive acceptance of OIE guidelines. Ultimately, consumer demands and demonstrable gains in animal production will result in an incremental evolution in animal welfare consciousness and adherence to international standards.