Chris Barrett on Daily Show

On September 24, Chris Barrett, former ACSF Associate Director for Economic Development and soon to be Director of the Dyson School, was featured in a lighthearted segment on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Chris Barrett on the Daily Show and NPR: Food vs. Cash

September 25, 2013

Chris Barrett on Daily Show

On September 24, Chris Barrett, former ACSF Associate Director for Economic Development and soon to be Director of the Dyson School, was featured in a lighthearted segment on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

In response to a question about USAID's new strategy to send more cash and less food to hungry people in other countries, Barrett said:

[The] issue in the food aid debate is this very small segment of shippers who put an American flag on their vessel, as a way of capturing windfall profits... They are owned ultimately by foreign corporations that create shell companies in the United States. So make no mistake, the windfall gains from these policies wind up accruing to people outside the United States... (watch the video)

 

In a more serious vein, Barrett was also interviewed on NPR on September 17, about the debate over ways to "feed the world":

It seemed that this dispute needed a referee. So I called Christopher Barrett, an economist at Cornell University who studies international agriculture and poverty.

"They're both right," he says, chuckling. "Sometimes the opposite of a truth isn't a falsehood, but another truth, right?"

It's true, he says, that bigger harvests in the U.S. tend to make food more affordable around the world, and "lower food prices are a good thing for poor people."

For instance, Chinese pigs are growing fat on cheap soybean meal grown by farmers in the U.S. and Brazil, and that's one reason why hundreds of millions of people in China than a generation ago — they can afford to buy pork. So American farmers who grow soybeans are justified in saying that they help feed the world.

But Mellon is right, too, Barrett says. The big crops that American farmers send abroad don't provide the vitamins and minerals that billions of people need most. So if the U.S. exports lots of corn, driving down the cost of cornmeal, "it induces poor families to buy lots of cornmeal, and to buy less in the way of leafy green vegetables, or milk," that have the key nutrients. In this case, you're feeding the world, but not solving the nutrition problems... (listen to the full story)