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Food and nutrition security under global trade: A relation-driven agent-based global trade model

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Jiaqi Ge, J. Gareth Polhill, Jennie I. MacDiarmid, Nuala Fitton, Pete Smith, Heather Clark, Terry Dawson, Mukta Aphale

Original languageEnglish
Article number201587
JournalRoyal Society open science
Issue number1
Published1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: Data accessibility. We have provided the (simulated) data used in the paper as electronic supplementary material. Authors’ contributions. J.G. was involved in conceptualization, formal analysis, investigation, methodology, validation, visualization and writing the original draft preparation. J.G.P. was involved in conceptualization, methodology, writing review and editing. J.I.M. was involved in conceptualization, data curation, methodology, funding acquisition, writing’ review and editing. N.F. was involved in data curation, formal analysis, writing review and editing. P.S. was involved in conceptualization, data curation, funding acquisition, methodology, writing review and editing. H.C. was involved in data curation, formal analysis, writing review and editing. T.D. was involved in conceptualization, funding acquisition, writing review and editing. M.A. was involved in conceptualization. Competing interests. P.S. was a member of the Royal Society Editorial Board at the time this paper was submitted, peer-reviewed and accepted; however, P.S. had no involvement in the assessment of this manuscript. Funding. The Scottish Government’s Environment, Agriculture and Food Strategic Research Portfolio and the Belmont Forum/FACCE-JPI (NERC grant no. NE/M021327/1) funded this research. Acknowledgements. We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions, which help us greatly improve the paper. Publisher Copyright: © 2021 The Authors. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


This paper addresses the highly relevant and timely issues of global trade and food security by developing an empirically grounded, relation-driven agent-based global trade model. Contrary to most price-driven trade models in the literature, the relation-driven agent-based global trade model focuses on the role of relational factors such as trust, familiarity, trade history and conflicts in countries' trade behaviour. Moreover, the global trade model is linked to a comprehensive nutrition formula to investigate the impact of trade on food and nutrition security, including macro and micronutrients. Preliminary results show that global trade improves the food and nutrition security of countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Trade also promotes a healthier and more balanced diet, as countries have access to an increased variety of food. The effect of trade in enhancing nutrition security, with an adequate supply of macro and micronutrients, is universal across nutrients and countries. As researchers call for a holistic and multifactorial approach to food security and climate change (Hammond and Dubé 2012 Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 109, 12 356-12 363. (doi:10.1073/pnas.0913003109)), the paper is one of the first to develop an integrated framework that consists of socio-economic, geopolitical, nutrition, environmental and agri-food systems to tackle these global challenges. Given the ongoing events of Brexit, the US-China trade war and the global COVID-19 pandemic, the paper will provide valuable insights on the role of trade in improving the food and nutrition security across countries.

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