Trade and the equitability of global food nutrient distribution

Abstract

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.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Potential gains in people nourished with trade.
Fig. 2: Change in number of people who could be nourished without trade.

References

  1. 1.

    Negin, J., Remans, R., Karuti, S. & Fanzo, J. C. Food Sec. 1, 351–360 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    DeFries, R. et al. Science 349, 238–240 (2015).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Remans, R., Wood, S. A., Saha, N., Anderman, T. L. & DeFries, R. S. Glob. Food Sec. 3, 174–182 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Sanchez, P. A., Denning, G. L. & Nziguheba, G. Food Sec. 1, 37–44 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Foley, J. A. et al. Nature 478, 337–342 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Parfitt, J., Barthel, M. & Macnaughton, S. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 365, 3065–3081 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Hawkes, C., Grace, D. & Thow, A. M. in Trade and Health (eds Smith, R., Blouin, C., Mirza, Z., Beyer, P. & Drager, N.) 92–116 (World Health Organization, Geneva, 2015).

  8. 8.

    Puma, M. J., Bose, S., Chon, S. Y. & Cook, B. I. Environ. Res. Lett. 10, 024007 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Bailey, R. & Wellesley, L. Chokepoints and Vulnerabilities in Global Food Trade (Chatham House, London, 2017).

  10. 10.

    FAO Food Balance Sheet; http://www.fao.org/faostat/en/#data/FBS

  11. 11.

    Smith, M. R., Micha, R., Golden, C. D., Mozaffarian, D. & Myers, S. S. PLoS ONE 11, e0146976 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12.

    Vitamin and Mineral Requirements in Human Nutrition (World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, Rome, 2004).

  13. 13.

    Wood, S. A. J. Appl. Ecol. 134, 2579 (2017).

    Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Wood, S. A. Global nutrient trade. Knowledge Network for Biocomplexity https://doi.org/10.5063/F1542KR1 (2017).

Download references

Acknowledgements

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

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

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.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Stephen A. Wood.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–3, Supplementary Tables 1–5

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wood, S.A., Smith, M.R., Fanzo, J. et al. Trade and the equitability of global food nutrient distribution. Nat Sustain 1, 34–37 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41893-017-0008-6

Download citation

Further reading