Food for Thought

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On December 1, 2017, Food for Thought commented on Brexit’s Nuclear Isolationism Threatens UK Cancer Patients :


This is a great example of the unintended and potentially devastating trickle-down effects of a far-reaching decision like Brexit. It is becoming clear that Brexit is not just the UK’s departure from the EU, but rather an untangling of a complicated web of interconnected agencies. While I recognize that Theresa May has committed to severing all ties with the European Court of Justice, I can’t help but ask: is maintaining membership in Euratom an option? Euratom is not technically part of the EU, and giving this regulatory body special treatment should be considered [1]. The potential rise in the cost of life-saving medical treatments following the UK’s Euratom departure makes this decision, in my opinion, a human rights issue. That should be reason enough for May to put the isolationist agenda aside and focus on human life.

[1] Dan Roberts, “What is Euratom and why does it matter?” The Guardian, July 10, 2017,, accessed December 2017.

On December 1, 2017, Food for Thought commented on Protectionism Threatens to Cripple US Solar: Spotlight on Sunrun :

Another potential solution for Sunrun to maintain its addressable market for solar-viable rooftops in the US is to focus on the bottom of the supply chain, the customer. Recognizing that Sunrun will likely pass its higher import costs along to its customers in order to retain margin, Sunrun should consider lobbying government for an increase in the federal solar tax credit. Currently, the tax credit allows consumers to deduct 30% of the cost of installing solar energy systems from their federal taxes [1]. Homeowners will be able to deduct 22% of the cost in 2021, with the residential tax credit expiring in 2022 (owners of new commercial solar energy systems will enjoy a permanent 10% credit) [1]. Sunrun should convince Congress to increase this credit and extend it, at least until technological improvements encourage declines in solar panel costs. Further, Sunrun could increase the impact of the tax credit by lobbying for additional credits with state governments. With the benefit of tax credits, Sunrun’s customers could see little to no change in the end price they pay for solar panels, allowing Sunrun to mitigate its potential 60% loss in market.

[1] “Congress extends solar tax credit – everything you need to know about the federal ITC,” EnergySage, March 12, 2017,, access December 2017.

On November 29, 2017, Food for Thought commented on Nestlé: Fostering climate change resilience among smallholder farmers :

Your essay raises important points not only on the environmental impact of climate change, but also on the social implications. Smallholder farmers, despite comprising 90% farms worldwide, are poor and hungry themselves [1]. Nestle’s choice of a partner will be critical in its efforts to drive change. I think non-profit organizations will play a key role. For example, Grameen Foundation has already launched a number of initiatives to help smallholder farmers combat climate change. Grameen initiated a mobile technology called FarmerLink with coconut farmers in the Philippines [1]. FarmerLink combines satellite data and farm data collected by mobile-equipped field agents to predict and detect threats from climate-sensitive pests and disease. Farmers receive warnings over their mobile phones. Early warning also enables government agents to help contain outbreaks before they cause devastating losses. Finally, FarmerLink aims to build farmer resilience by providing farming and financial advice with the data collected by field agents [1]. Given the degree of progress an organization like Grameen has already made in helping smallholder farmers, Nestle would be smart to consider them a suitable partner. Together, these organizations have the potential to make environmental and social leaps.

[1] Gigi Gatti and Tina Hipolito, “Bringing Coconut Farmers into the 21st Century Through Mobile Agriculture,” Food Tank, February 7, 2017,, accessed November 2017.

On November 29, 2017, Food for Thought commented on Monsanto: Our climate change Messiah? :

With a global footprint touching 69 countries [1], Monsanto is well-equipped to lead GMO innovations to combat food shortages. However, it appears that Monsanto has forgotten the age-old adage “it’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.” Monsanto’s iron-handed approach to enforcing GMO technology adoption has clouded its noble intentions. In order to have a meaningful impact on global agricultural production through GMO innovation, Monsanto needs to engage two key stakeholders: 1) farmers and 2) end consumers.

Clearly, Monsanto has already disenfranchised farmers through aggressive surveillance and litigation. While you cite Monsanto’s use of an “incentive program” to mobilize farmers, I would argue that this program either isn’t working or is insufficient. First, Monsanto needs to engage farmers as partners, empowering them with a sense of agency in the fight against declining yields. Once it has established this level of trust, Monsanto can work with farmers to develop an incentive structure that motivates them to join their movement towards more carbon neutral crop production methods.

Finally, Monsanto needs to engage with end consumers on the merits of GMO technology and its potential to mitigate climate change. Consumer misconceptions of GM food products continue to be high. In fact, according to a recent study, 39% of Americans say that GM foods are worse for one’s health [2]. If consumer demand for GM food products is low, then Monsanto’s impact on food shortages could be moot. Monsanto needs to play a role in educating the public, so that the “fruits” of its GMO labor are realized.

[1] Mosanto Company, “About Monsanto Company,”, accessed November 2017.

[2] Cary Funk and Brian Kennedy, “The New Food Fights: U.S. Public Divides Over Food Science,” Pew Research Center, December 1, 2016,, accessed November 2017.

On November 27, 2017, Food for Thought commented on Dashing into a digital future with the Amazon Dash :


Great article! I am particularly intrigued by the predictive ordering capabilities that you raise. I imagine that Amazon will soon be able to (if it cannot already) predict consumer buying needs on a day-by-day basis, eliminating friction in consumers’ decision making and purchase processes. However, my question is: does Amazon really need Dash to achieve this level of predictability? Furthermore, is the marginal value of a Dash button versus, say, a user friendly mobile app, really worth it to consumers? More and more consumers are buying exclusively on mobile. In fact, the recent Black Friday holiday generated over $5 billion in online sales, with $2 billion on mobile alone [1]. If the convenience factor of Dash ordering can be replicated with a mobile app, why wouldn’t consumers be inclined to press a button they already have, avoiding the added technology of yet another button (either physical or virtual)? From Amazon’s perspective, too, the Dash button might quickly become superfluous. The data collected through Amazon’s online channel is likely already robust enough to replicate the predictive features of the Dash button. I fear that the additional infrastructure costs and R&D expenses of the Dash button will not generate enough user demand to be a worthwhile pursuit for Amazon long term.

[1] Ingrid Lunden, “Black Friday racks up $5.03B in online sales, $2B on mobile alone,” TechCrunch, November 24, 2017,, accessed November 2017.

On November 26, 2017, Food for Thought commented on Making Post Offices Relevant again: Aramex :


Thanks for your article. It is encouraging to see a potential private sector solution to declining post office performance. However, I have concerns regarding Amarex’s scalability for two reasons. My first concern is the competitive question you raised. Aramex’s competitors are not only global courier giants, but also, and perhaps more threatening, Amazon. As Amazon begins to expand its own delivery service, it is arguably surpassing local post offices in their ability to maintain the best delivery coverage and last mile dynamics [1]. For this reason, I could easily envision Amazon making Aramex irrelevant in the near future. My second concern is the degree to which Aramex can convince other national postal services to partner with Aramex. I fear that many post offices will see Aramex as a potential foe rather than friend and be loath to share their most competitive assets–their delivery networks–with Aramex. Rather than seeing Aramex as enabling them to compete with global courier giants, post offices may view Aramex as just another courier giant seeking to squeeze them out of the networks they built.

[1] Spencer Soper, “Amazon Is Testing Its Own Delivery Service to Rival FedEx and UPS,” Bloomberg, October 5, 2017,, accessed November 2017.