Measures relating to environmental protection (with the exception of those mentioned above), consumer protection or animal welfare are not covered by the SPS agreement. However, these concerns are addressed by other WTO agreements (i.e. the OBT agreement or Article XX of the 1994 GATT). The two agreements have a number of common elements, including fundamental non-discrimination obligations and similar requirements for prior notification of proposed measures and the creation of information offices (“Information Points”). However, many of the substantive rules are different. Thus, both agreements promote the application of international standards. However, under the SPS agreement, the only justifications for non-application of these standards for food safety and protection of animal/vegetable health are scientific arguments arising from an assessment of potential health risks. On the other hand, under the OBT agreement, governments may decide that international standards are not appropriate for other reasons, including fundamental technological problems or geographical factors. Under the SPS agreement, the WTO sets limits on Member States` policy on food security (bacterial contaminants, pesticides, inspection and labelling) and animal and plant health (phyto-hygiene) with regard to pests and imported diseases. There are three standards bodies that set standards on which WTO members should base their SPS methods. According to Article 3, they are the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the secretariat of the International Convention on the Protection of Plants (IPPC).
Prior information on changes to the SSS requirements of importing countries is essential to enable manufacturers to prepare their products for export. The SPS agreement requires that proposed changes to the sps requirements be notified to the WTO at a time when it is still possible to accept and amend the comments of trading partners before being adopted. An exception allows governments to immediately impose SPS measures in response to an emergency, but the emergency measure must be time-limited and feedback from trading partners must be taken into account when reviewing the temporary measure.