Issue

Trade

Behind almost every product we buy and the GDP numbers we worry over, there is a story whose trail crosses the globe. Every physical product starts as raw material somewhere, from the gold in our jewelry to the shrimp at our favorite restaurants and the minerals within our mobile phones and laptops.

The rapid industrialization of countries like India, China, and Brazil and a voracious consumer culture in Europe, the United States and Japan mean ever greater demand for these raw materials—and ever greater pressures on the individuals, communities, and environments that bear the cost of providing them.

These local costs too often remain hidden. They are obscured by companies and governments that put a premium on production and exports. They are little understood by consumers, whose concept of "price" and "value" does not include damage done to people and places far away.

Trade is an effort to make those connections plain, to show the true costs of producing the commodities that have become essential to our lifestyles but that we mostly take for granted. These reports touch on goods and challenges across the globe that share a common theme: the implications of a vision of endless prosperity set against the reality of a finite planet.

Trade

Ecuador: Jungle Tensions

Chevron is accused of having dumped 18 billion gallons of toxic waste in Ecuador’s Amazonian rainforest, and local residents are determined to hold them accountable.

American Imports, Chinese Deaths

Reporter Loretta Tofani gets inside America's factory, China, where the lack of health and safety precautions has Chinese workers dying.

In interviews with dozens of dying workers and through review of their medical records, she documents how Chinese workers routinely lose limbs from old machinery or develop fatal diseases...

Congo's Conflict: Profit and Loss

Conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo have resulted in millions of Congolese lives lost, while benefiting the trade of small arms and valuable minerals like coltan.