Currently Browsing: Trade

Highlights and questions from the Natural Products Expo West trade show

In March I attended the Natural Products Expo West, one of the largest trade shows for the natural products industry. Produced by New Hope Natural Media, the show had hundreds of exhibitors promoting their products — companies looking for new distribution, looking for new buyers, testing new flavors or...

“A beautiful bowl of glory”: Rancho Gordo’s Steve Sando on beans, trade, and the tortilla project

International trade can wreak havoc on small farmers and the global food culture: impoverishing peasants, destroying old ways of cooking, and reducing biodiversity.  Now and then, however, international trade can have the opposite effect, building up farmers instead of rolling over them, preserving heritage...

Concentration in the food industry not a concern, says new GAO report

In recent years, farmers have received an ever-decreasing share of the retail dollar, even during recent spikes in food prices. Some have argued that concentration in the food industry — the increase in the economic power of the largest firms — is the cause. Although it might be a factor, there are numerous...

U.S. and Canada forge organic alliance

Good news, eh? Products meeting the Certified Organic standard in the United States can now be sold as organic in Canada, and vice versa, without additional certification work. Canada is the largest U.S. trade partner and largest estimated export market for U.S. organic products. (USDA press...

Germany’s list of farm subsidy recipients surprises many

Ich bin ein Parasit: On Tuesday the German Agricultural Ministry posted a list online disclosing the names of German recipients of 5.4 billion euros ($7.5 billion) in annual agricultural subsidies granted by the European Union, under pressure from the EU. (Germany was the last country to do so, and the...

Dispatch from NC: Notes on the food crisis

It's been a whirlwind few days on the campus of North Carolina State University, where I attended "The Politics of Food," a conference organized by the Environmental Leadership Program. There's lots to report on: Panels during the three-day event ranged in topic from the role of business in a sustainable...

WT… Oh, forget it

There was little commotion in the blogosphere as the WTO's Doha Round, which had been struggling to bail out its liberalization life raft for years, finally slipped below the surface last week. I, for one, was on vacation, watching shrimpers in much sturdier boats cast their nets off of North Carolina's...

The cost of being cool: Refrigeration energy in the food system

On my post about food miles vs. food choices, commenter Mike wondered how much energy is used in the "cold chain" of the food system. The answer: Quite a bit. A report from the Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS) at the University of Michigan (ref. 1 below) provides a breakdown of the energy used in the...

Brazil prepares to retaliate against U.S. cotton subsidies

The U.S. Farm Bill that was finally enacted into law last week did little to change farm subsidy policies, despite unprecedented political pressure from a variety of activist groups and individual citizens. But where small groups failed, an international agency and foreign government might have more...

New European chemical safety regulations reach around the world

The European Union is changing the rules for chemicals, requiring that industry demonstrate that a chemical is safe before using it in consumer products such as cosmetics, food packaging, water bottles, and durable goods. This approach, sometimes called "the precautionary principle," is in stark contrast to...

The enemy of my enemy: Why a Bush veto of the Farm Bill is bad for the food movement (and the world)

My former boss in DC once said that if she ever found herself on the same side of an issue as the Bush Administration, it was time to go back and look more closely: there must be a hidden agenda. That was the thought that struck me as I contemplated the administration's Farm Bill veto threat on Friday. I...