International trade rules based on science are not functioning efficiently. Considerable effort was put forth in the 20th century to enable politics to be removed from the frameworks that governed international trade. Some degree of success was witnessed from these efforts as numerous institutions (i.e. SPS/WTO, IPPC, OECD, Codex) were founded or their roles expanded. These institutions were established on the premise that science-based frameworks were essential to the efficient functioning of international commerce. The first decade of the 21st century would seem to suggest that these institutions are floundering and that the role of science as the basis of international trade rules is on the decline. The evidence of international trade inefficiencies are witnessed in the case of products derived from biotechnology. The most recent example of this is the absolute halt in the international trade of flax from Canada to Europe after the trace detection of a trait that was approved for food and feed use in Canada but not in Europe. Examples of this can also be found in corn, soybeans and rice. The success of international institutions in dealing with transformative technologies such as biotechnology has thus far been rather dismal. This paper focuses on the fundamental causes for the disruption of international trade and endeavours to provide insights into how to move forward.