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Regulations relating to disease management have traditionally been an important component of the overall environment in which international trade in agriculture products occurs. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS Agreement) allows members to restrict or prohibit imports from a country when imported products present a risk to human, animal or plant health or life. As the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, also commonly called Mad Cow disease in the media) outbreak in Canada showed, the disease status of a country is a major competitive advantage and losing disease-free status can impose significant costs on an industry. The risks associated with SPS-based border closures were not well anticipated by the Canadian industry and government, and little was done in preparation for the potential change in the trading environment and the ensuing losses. This is a mistake many stakeholders in the industry plan to avoid making again.


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