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Trade and public health: facing the challenges of globalisation – author’s response
  1. R Labonté
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor R Labonté
 Canada Research Chair, Globalization/Health Equity, Institute of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, 1 Stewart Street, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 6N5; rlabonte{at}

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We welcome Richard Smith’s editorial on part 1 of our glossary and applaud its caution that our glossary be accepted as a first, but not last, word on the topic.1,2 In turn, we have a few cautions of our own to add to Smith’s.

First, we regret if our glossary implies that we view trade as a threat to public health or consider the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its trade treaties to be singularly negative. Neither is the case. Our concern, instead, was with those aspects of trade and trade treaties where a public health risk demonstrably does exist, or without additional safeguarding by national governments or within trade treaties themselves, could likely exist. We assumed, perhaps incorrectly, that the benefits of trade (real or putative) were so commonplace in mass media that they did not require more than passing reference.

Second, we concur completely with Smith’s comments on the power of globalisation in its enhanced communicative technologies to do tremendous public health good, the importance of health officials demonstrating the economic costs …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.