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Urban Food Policy Forum: Food, Trade, & Health: What are the Connections?

  • CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy 55 West 125th Street New York, NY, 10027 United States (map)

In this session, we will explore how two middle income countries, South Africa and Mexico, have responded to the changing global food system. Speakers will describe the role of global and national food industries in changing the diet and health of people in these countries, with a particular focus on recent rises in non-communicable diet-related diseases. They will also examine some of the ways that governments and civil society organizations have responded to the public health challenges posed by the rise of highly processed foods in South Africa and Mexico.  

In the discussion, speakers and participants will explore how changing United States and international views on the global food trade creates threats and opportunities for creating healthier food systems.


  • Alyshia Galvez is Associate Professor of Latin American Studies at Lehman College and the former director of the Jaime Lucero Institute of Mexican Studies at City University of New York.  She is author of the forthcoming book, Eating NAFTA: Trade and Food Policies and the Destruction of Mexico.

  • David Sanders is founder and Emeritus Professor of the School of Public Health at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa. He is also a founder of the People's Health Movement, a global movement that promotes health justice. For decades, he has studied the health consequences of South Africa's changing food system.  

The moderator is Nicholas Freudenberg, Distinguished Professor of Public Health, Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and author of Lethal but Legal Corporations, Consumption and Protecting Public Health (Oxford, 2014, 2016).


Video of the 6.6.18 Forum - Food, Trade, & Health: What are the Connections? 


Suggested Resources:

David Sanders Suggested Resources:

  • Igumbor E, Sanders D, Puoane T, Tsolekile L, Schwarz C, Purdy C, Swart R, Dura˜o S, Hawkes C. ‘‘‘Big Food,’’ the Consumer Food Environment, Health, and the Policy Response in South Africa’, PLoS Medicine | www.plosmedicine.org | 1 July 2012 | Volume 9 | Issue 7 | e1001253
  • Libman K, Freudenberg N, Sanders D, Puoane T, Tsolekile L. The role of urban food policy in preventing diet-related non-communicable diseases in Cape Town and New York. Public Health. 2015 Apr 30;129(4):327-35.
  • Thow AM, Sanders D, Drury E, Puoane T, Chowdhury SN, Tsolekile L, Negin J. “Regional trade and the nutrition transition: opportunities to strengthen NCD prevention policy in the Southern African Development Community”, Global Health Action 2015, 8: 28338 - http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/gha.v8.28338
  • Nutrition may be as big a challenge today as hiv aids was 15 years ago on theconversation.com


Alyshia Galvez Suggested Resources:


Resources from “Q and A on Food, Trade and Health,” a post on the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute website, cunyurbanfoodpolicy.org

Q. Where can readers learn more about the organizations that are seeking more equitable trade pacts that make food and health a priority?  

A. The California Trade Justice Coalition is a growing alliance of labor, environmental, public health, immigrant rights, human rights, and socially conscious business leaders committed to building a strong California economy that works for all. Read: Organizations Release Demands for NAFTA Renegotiations

Food First is a “people’s think tank” dedicated to ending the injustices that cause hunger and helping communities to take back control of their food systems.  Read: The TPP is Dead: Time to Transform the Food System

Global Trade Watch seeks to ensure that in this era of globalization, a majority have the opportunity to enjoy America's promises: economic security, a clean environment, safe food, medicines and products, access to quality affordable services such as health care and the exercise of democratic decision-making about the matters that affect their lives.  Read: NAFTA Talks Should Continue Until a Good Deal Is Achieved

GRAIN ­­is a small international non-profit organization that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems.  Read:  New Free Trade Agreements: Normalising Brutal Transnational Supply Chains

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy has often pursued solutions that benefit family farmers, rural communities and the planet. It has also advocated for more democratic and economically just trade agreements. Read: How NAFTA is Making Our Food and Water Much Less Healthy and Principles of a new U.S. trade policy for North American agriculture