Tag Archives: Trade

Could Countries Trade Food With the Environment in Mind?

The world’s farming and transportation sectors are some of the biggest contributors to global warming and climate change since they emit around 14 percent of total global greenhouse gases each. Emissions are counted mainly from agricultural production and from the fossil fuels burned in road, air and sea freight, respectively. However, the two are also increasingly interlinked because of rapid growth of international trade in agricultural goods—such as foods, natural fibers and bio-fuels—over the last few decades. Agriculture’s impact on atmospheric pollution is rising because of the energy needed to move agricultural products between more and more countries around the world.

In theory, international trade is a good thing because it can reduce the price of goods for consumers and increase sales for producers, making everyone better off. However, this is a purely economic perspective that does not take important environmental issues into consideration. While goods will always continue to flow across national borders, if we are serious about reducing global greenhouse gas emissions and halting climate change, then we need to make sure that they do so in the most environmentally sound way possible. Read More »

The Economist on Obesity: A Disappointing Ideological Conclusion

This week’s The Economist featured a story on rising global epidemic of obesity that was part of the Special Report on Obesity. I was very enthused by the initial discussion that mirrored much of the analysis that the Development Roast has offered in the past. Yet a grave disappointment ensued when the piece entitled Fat Chance seemed to contradict much of the preceding argument when reaching its conclusion.

The article begins with the now very familiar recounting of the global statistics that show obesity and its accompanying diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions and food-related cancers as the biggest killers worldwide, in both advanced and developing nations. It then went on to admit that such a widespread trend, which is imposing a heavy cost on both public and private purses, as well as causing a reduction in labor productivity, presents a dilemma for a magazine. Read More »

Theory Bites: Development, Underdevelopment and Dependency

The contemporary common language of development divides the world between developed and underdeveloped countries. This common-sensical classification also guides us to think of the two groups as rich and poor. Or even further, that the developed world, despite its imperfections, is “fine” and its people are happy—they represent the way human society should generally be—while the underdeveloped, for whichever reason, has just fallen behind—its people suffer and are not an example of what we’d like to see for humanity. The assumption is that everyone would prefer to live in a city, drive their car to work, and enjoy air conditioning and washing machines, since humans can and should “achieve” much more than washing their clothes by hand or farming for their own survival.

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Can We Use Trade to Make Us Healthier? A Case Study From Mexico

U.S. exports obesity epidemic to Mexico was the conclusion of a recent Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) report. The study looks at the health consequences of the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA), a tri-lateral trade liberalization agreement between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. that came into effect in 1994. The researchers tracked the increases of U.S. exports into Mexico that followed NAFTA’s implementation. These included such items as soft drinks, snack foods, processed meats, and dairy, as well as raw inputs such as corn and soybeans that are used in the food processing industry. They then linked the rises to increased consumption of unhealthy foods and, thusly, to an incremental rise in the nation’s climbing obesity epidemic. Read More »

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