Food and Nutrition Security under Global Trade: A relation-driven agent-based global trade model

J Ge* (Corresponding Author), Gary Polhill, Jennie Macdiarmid, Nuala Fitton, Pete Smith, Heather Clark, Terry Dawson, Mukta Aphale

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
26 Downloads (Pure)


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 Dube 2012 Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA109, 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number 201587
Number of pages47
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number1
Early online date13 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

The Scottish Government’s Environment, Agriculture and Food Strategic Research Portfolio and the Belmont Forum/FACCE-JPI (NERC grant number NE/M021327/1) funded this research.
We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions, which help us greatly improve the paper.


  • global trade
  • relation-driven trade
  • food security
  • micronutrients
  • agent-based model


Dive into the research topics of 'Food and Nutrition Security under Global Trade: A relation-driven agent-based global trade model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this