I was first introduced to labor rights in the food industry after watching the documentary Food Chain$. The film, which was screened in Baltimore, exposes the plight of Immokalee tomato pickers, organized by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), and their goal of raising wages by a penny a pound for tomatoes picked in Florida. They were successful in convincing most retailers and wholesalers to meet their demands, and CIW received national attention when the Obama Administration issued them a Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons. These high-profile campaigns are raising awareness among consumers and challenging food companies to discuss labor rights. Read More >
An astounding 23 million farmed Atlantic salmon have died in Chile due to an algal bloom. About nine percent of salmon farms in southern Chile were affected, at a cost of about $800 million U.S. Chile is a major salmon exporter to the U.S. El Niño conditions have led to unusually warmer ocean waters that allow algae to multiply. Read more at Reuters.
In the past few months we have posted several stories about net-pen aquaculture in the Great Lakes. Recently, three Michigan state agencies have publicly stated opposition to net-pen farms in Lake Michigan because of environmental risks, and potential adverse effects on tourism and recreational fishing. Read more at the Detroit Free Press. Read More >
Aquaculture and Fisheries Policy
This month NOAA released a draft proposal for new seafood traceability requirements for 13 species to stem imports of illegal, unreported, and unregulated fish. While the plan is a good first step, our colleague Beth Lowell of Oceana would like to see the plan go further by adding three components in the final rule: “1) it needs to apply to all seafood; 2) products need to be traced throughout the entire supply chain to final point of sale; and 3) if there is a phase-in implementation process, there must be a concrete timeline to expand the rule to all species and extend traceability from boat to plate in the final rule.” Read more: The Hill and Food Safety News.
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The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) 2015 – 2020 were released last week and many public health and sustainable food system experts were dismayed over the exclusion of sustainability considerations. It appears politics played a large role in deciding not to include sustainability–which was in the report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, which the DGA is based on. The specific guidelines for seafood look very similar to past dietary guidelines; Americans are advised to eat two servings per week, which would double current average consumption. Read the seafood related guidelines at the DGA website, CLF’s reaction to the DGA on our blog, and our public comment with suggestions on what to include in the DGA’s seafood recommendations, which we submitted in May while the guidelines were under development.
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GE salmon is the same as non-GE salmon? When genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon was approved for human consumption by the FDA, consumer groups responded by clamoring for a new process that would review GE food animals and require the products be labeled as GE. But FDA has decided that GE salmon is equivalent to non-GE farmed Atlantic salmon. Read the article at the New York Times and FDA’s response to Read More >
Climate change damages ocean ecosystems. Ocean acidification and temperature increases are wreaking havoc on plants and animals that live in the ocean, upending marine food webs, and hurting diversity and energy flows. According to the FAO, fisheries and aquaculture support the livelihood for 10 to 12 percent of the world’s population—the collapse of ocean ecosystems would deal a significant blow to global food security and the global economy. Read the article at The Guardian. Read More >
Today, leaders from 193 countries will gather in New York City to formally adopt the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an agenda to guide global development during the next fifteen years. The SDGs will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which led this agenda from 2000 to 2015. The MDGs generally neglected issues pertinent to food systems; hunger and environmental sustainability were the only particularly relevant topics included. As we move into the SDG era, are food systems likely to feature more prominently in global development initiatives? Read More >
Water laps gently against the canoe as Felix paddles across Lake Volta. Once he reaches the floating cages, he scoops some pellets that look like typical fish food and sprinkles them over the water. Hungry tilapias dart to the top. They gobble the beads in such a frenzy the surface of the water erupts like a fountain.
Felix is feeding fish as part of a research study in Ghana. The tilapia fingerlings in this one-month growth trial have been divided into four groups. Felix feeds one group by tossing them a cupful of typical tilapia food enriched with vitamins, minerals, wheat, poultry by-products and fishmeal. The other three groups feast on the same feed, but instead of fishmeal, they get varying amounts of insect meal. Like fish, insects can be converted into a high-protein, high-energy feed.
Fingerling Food in Ghana
After two years of daily measuring, monitoring, feeding, and harvesting, three researchers felt like they’d reached an understanding of how their aquaponics facility really worked. With a new study, “Energy and water use of a small-scale raft aquaponics system in Baltimore, Maryland, United States,” the authors describe the relationship between inputs (energy, water, and fish feed), outputs (edible crops and fish), and operating conditions for their Baltimore-based facility. Basically, authors Dave Love, Michael Uhl and Laura Genello asked, What resources does it take to maintain an aquaponics facility and how could the system be optimized for profit? Read More >
Debate over open ocean fish farms. Open ocean finfish farming is being considered four miles off the coast of San Diego in the Pacific Ocean, and similar ideas are being discussed in the Great Lakes region. The proposed San Diego farm is a joint partnership between Hubbs-Sea World Research Institute and private investors, and would be the nation’s largest, raising yellowtail and sea bass. Presently, it is unclear whether the proposed farm will be permitted. The Great Lakes is new to net pen aquaculture, but Michigan State University and Michigan Sea Grant are testing the waters by hosting a public forum about the topic. Supporters and critics of both regions are lining up to debate the issue. Read the articles at NPR and Michigan State University Extension. Read More >