Are more restrictive food cadmium standards justifiable health safety measures or opportunistic barriers to trade? An answer from economics and public health.Sci Total Environ. 2008 Jan 15; 389(1):1-9.ST
In the past, Cd regulations have imposed trade restrictions on foodstuffs from some developing countries seeking to access markets in the developed world and in recent years, there has been a trend towards imposing more rigorous standards. This trend seems to respond more to public and private sectors strategies in some developed countries to create disguised barriers to trade and to improve market competitiveness for their industries, than to scientifically justified health precautions (sanitary and phytosanitary measures) and/or technical barriers to trade acceptable under the Uruguay Round Agreement of the WTO. Applying more rigorous Cd standards in some developed countries will not only increase production costs in developing countries but it will also have a large impact on their economies highly dependent on international agricultural markets. In the current literature there are large uncertainties in the cause-effect relationship between current levels of Cd intakes and eventual health effects in human beings; even the risk of Cd to kidney function is under considerable debate. Recent works on the importance of zinc:Cd ratio rather than Cd levels alone to determine Cd risk factors, on the one hand, and on the declining trends of Cd level in foods and soils, on the other, also indicate a lack of scientific evidence justifying more restrictive cadmium standards. This shows that developing countries should fight for changing and making more transparent the current international structures and procedures for setting sanitary and phytosanitary measures and technical barriers to trade.