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Trade and the equitability of global food nutrient distribution

Nature Sustainabilityvolume 1pages3437 (2018) | Download Citation


Access to sufficient, nutritious food is a basic human right and is necessary to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. We demonstrate that international food trade, in the current global system, is essential to nutrient access and enables some poorer countries to be able to nourish up to hundreds of millions of people. Protectionist trade policies could therefore have serious negative consequences for food security.

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The authors would like to acknowledge M. Bradford, D. Kane, S. Kuebbing, E. Oldfield and C. Palm for helpful comments. S.A.W. was supported by a NatureNet Science Fellowship.

Author information


  1. The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA, 22203, USA

    • Stephen A. Wood
  2. School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 06511, USA

    • Stephen A. Wood
  3. Department of Environmental Health, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA, 02115, USA

    • Matthew R. Smith
  4. The Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Berman Institute of Bioethics and the Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Washington, DC, 20036, USA

    • Jessica Fanzo
  5. Bioversity International, 3001, Heverlee, Belgium

    • Roseline Remans
  6. Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University, 9000, Ghent, Belgium

    • Roseline Remans
  7. Department of Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10027, USA

    • Ruth S. DeFries


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R.S.D. and S.A.W. conceived the project; M.R.S., R.S.D. and S.A.W. designed the analysis; M.R.S. and S.A.W. analysed data; all authors interpreted data; S.A.W. wrote the first draft of the manuscript; all authors provided feedback on the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stephen A. Wood.

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