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Title: Crop Biotech, Aquaculture, and Animal Agriculture: Identifying Trends, Concerns, and Best Practices

Crop Biotech, Aquaculture, and Animal
AgricultureIdentifying Trends, Concerns, and
Best Practices
  • Ike Sharpless
  • Winslow Management Company
  • Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009

Overarching Trends
  • Labeling concerns COOL, GMs, Animal Welfare,
    Fair Trade, Certified Organic, etc, etc, etc
  • Corporate or government leadership shifting
  • Inter- and intra-connectedness of agricultural
  • None of these issues can be discussed without
    understanding the role of the global food
    business and the agricultural supply chain

  • Underlies a fundamental division in US-EU
    practices consumer right-to-know vs. agency
    stamp of approval
  • Labeling is often the preferred mechanism of
    control for industry groups, but it does not
    address a core problem that environmental
    concern expressed in polls and elsewhere often
    does not translate into behavior in terms of
    willingness to pay (WTP)

The Rise of CSR in the Food Business
  • Why does this matter?
  • 10 companies produce 40 of all the food we buy
    (and 40 companies produce 85)
  • 20-30 of product value comes from the farm the
    rest is food industry-value added
  • General trend towards corporate-environmental
  • IKEA and Rainforest Alliance/WWF/FSC
  • Marriott and Conservation International
  • Myriad examples exist water, labor, health,
    animal welfare,

Tragedy of the Agricultural Commons
  • All three of these domains contain public good
  • Biotech non-GM farmers face the risk of genetic
    contamination Starlink / Linked x
  • Fisheries like other extractive industries,
    commercial fishing fleets see the writing on the
    wall and want to get as many fish while they
    still can
  • Animal Ag growing animal feed contributes to
    oceanic eutrophication and the growth of algal
    blooms and anoxic dead zones

The Role of the Food Supply Chain
  • Stages of industrialization of the food supply
  • Retail commodity foods (1850-1930)
  • Packaged Foods
  • Ready-to-eat Foods
  • The birth of food science

Agricultural BiotechnologyEvaluating the two
competing narratives
  • Fifteen years in the first transgenic crops were
    planted in 1996 (1st to be developed was
    Calgenes Flavr Savr tomato, developed in 1989)
  • For better or for worse, the areas planted to
    transgenic crops in 2004 were
  • In the US 46 for corn, 76 for cotton, and 85
    for soybeans in 2004, up to 86 of cotton, 92 of
    soybeans, and 80 of corn by 2008
  • Globally 81 million hectares, grown by 8.25
    million farmers in 17 countries
  • Both camps seem to be identifying a pure play
    where none exists
  • Key lesson barring allergenicity and the risk of
    antibiotic resistance, GM foods are probably safe
    and healthy for human consumption the real risk
    is how their use fosters the uncritical
    acceptance of conventional agriculture generally
    and large-scale monocropping in particular

the Ultimate Technofix?
  • Key stakeholder BIO (Biotechnology Industry
  • Represents over 1,100 biotech companies, academic
    institutions, and related organizations in the US
    and 31 other nations
  • Notable organizations include Monsanto, DuPont,
    and Novartis
  • Arguments
  • improved yields
  • lower costs
  • lower pesticide input usage
  • Variously improved foods
  • Decreased water use
  • Bt cotton has saved a great deal of water and
    herbicide input, for example cotton is an
    especially thirsty crop

Cover of WIRED magazine, Nov. 2008
Or Frankenfoods?
  • Key stakeholder Greenpeace (among others)
  • Arguments
  • Dangers of wild crop transference
  • Creation of superweeds and insect resistance
  • Excessive corporate ownership
  • Continuation of unsustainable cycle of
    single-gene solutions to problems bred from
    large-scale monocropping

The Good Things
  • Decreased total pesticide usage
  • Especially valuable in developing countries,
    where lax or nonexistent regulation encourages
    pesticide companies to export their products that
    are banned in the US/EU.
  • Higher yields in easy to understand monocropped
    systems can (arguably) produce more food on less
  • Only 10 of the worlds land surface is arable,
    and much of it is already overfarmed and on
    eroded soil
  • Has the potential to help with diseases and
    nutrition deficiencies that are systemic in much
    of the developing world
  • Phytoremediation, whereby plants detoxify
    pollutants in the soil or absorb and accumulate
    polluting substances out of the soil
  • May enable the development of more efficient
    grains for animal feed
  • Genomic mapping leads to further food safety
  • The genetic structure of several strains of
    Listeria and Campylobacter have recently been

The Bad Things
  • Agricultural biodiversity plummeting (hence the
    Svalbard Global Seed Vault)
  • From 40,000 rice strains in India to 250
  • Small farmers become entirely dependent upon
    corporate seeds (terminator technology)
  • Non-GMO seed producers suffer from crop
  • Consumers lose right to choose (under US system,
    at least)
  • Works hand-in-hand with monocropping, stymieing
  • ecological theory predicts that as long as
    transgenic crops follow closely the pesticide
    paradigm prevalent in modern agriculture, such
    biotechnological products will do nothing but
    reinforce the pesticide treadmill in

Specific Cases
  • Bacillus Thuringiensis (Bt) crops
  • StarLink Corn
  • Functional and Pharma- Foods
  • Hardier crops (drought, soil toxicity and
    salinity resistant, etc.)

Bt Crops
  • The Bt genes contain genetic information that
    the plant uses to produce a protein toxic to the
    larvae of certain plant pests but is safe for
    humans, animals and other insects
  • BIO website, agricultural biotech FAQ

The StarLink Debacle, circa 2000
  • StarLink corn approved for animal feed only (the
    largest US market for corn) due to potential
    human allergenicity, but found its way into a
    Taco Bell taco shells
  • Raised serious questions about segregation,
    traceability (required 660-foot buffer zone), and
  • Subsequent FAO/WHO standards (2001) acknowledged
    the near impossibility of zero allergenicity risk
    due to the inability to prove a negative

Functional (and Pharma-) Foods
  • A functional food is technically any food with
    health-promoting claims or abilities
  • (Marketing) example yogurt
  • In the GM context
  • Golden Rice (rice with higher carotenoid levels)
  • Crops enriched with Vitamin E, folate, high
    protein content in the form of Lysine
  • Hypoallergenic soy and rice exist, and wheat is
    being developed
  • Pharma foods are being developed that may help
    prevent or cure diseases such as cholera and

Why do we need (something like) functional foods?
  • Almost 1 billion people suffer from Goiter due to
    iodine deficiency (with 50 million suffering
    brain damage and 16 million cretinism due to the
  • Approximately 127 million pre-school children
    suffer from vitamin A deficiency, with up to
    500,000 going blind each year
  • Anemiacaused by iron deficiencyafflicts 2
    billion people a year, killing 800,000
  • A lack of zinc contributes to frequent diarrhea
  • Folateor B12deficiency causes neural tube
    defects and spina bifida in newborns and
    cardiovascular disease in adults

Why are functional foods touted?
  • Staple diets (cassava, rice, maize, wheat) cannot
    by themselves provide an adequate range of
  • Distributing vitamin supplementsor
    nutraceuticals is costlier than things like
    golden rice
  • Seen by some (but not by others) as the next
    generation of the Green Revolution

Pharm Animals
  • In February 2009, the FDA ruled safe a herd of
    goats containing ATryn, an intravenous
    anti-clotting drug extracted from their milk for
    a fraction of the pharmaceuticals production
    price. These goats are the first such GM animal
    to be approved in the US.
  • ATryn is the brand name of anticoagulant
    antithrombin as manufactured by
    Massachusetts-based GTC Biotheraputics
  • Although groups like the Humane Society of the
    United States (HSUS) oppose GM animals on
    principle because of their mechanistic nature,
    there have been no animal-welfare related harms
    associated with ATryn to date

What are the drawbacks
  • A potential contributor to increased pest
    resistance and the development of superbugs
  • Opposed on GM grounds
  • Viewing food solely as the sum of their
    micronutrients robs them of their whole food
    value (Pollans critique of nutritionists)
  • Evidence of nutrient uptake is unclear
  • Corn/lime example in A Moveable Feast
  • Positive example from Dartmouth researchers re.
    higher-calcium carrots

Hardier Crops
  • CEO of Performance Plants Incorporated said in
    2008 that drought resistant oilseed rape and
    maize will be on the market in four years
  • Snorkel rice takes the snorkel genes in
    flood-tolerant rice and introduces them to
    higher-yield rice
  • Crops able to grow with less water or in
    conditions of high salinity have been in the
    pipeline for the last decade, with little
    tangible gain
  • Hugh Grant, Monsantos CEO, acknowledged when
    talking to an HBS class that it was probably a PR
    mistake on the companys part to focus solely on
    proprietary crops (Bt/RoundUp) at the expense of
    humanitarian technologies
  • Instead, biotechnology companies to date have
    largely focused on emphasizing a limited range of
    crops that have large and secured markets.

Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA)
  • A collaboration of the African Agricultural
    Technology Foundation (AATF), various sub-Saharan
    African governments, and Monsanto
  • Monsanto has contributed significant resources
    to the project, Mark Lawson, Monsanto yield and
    stress platform lead, said. This includes white
    corn germplasm, the expertise that we have in
    conducting molecular breeding and a royalty-free
    license to our transgenic drought technology for
    small farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Viewed cynically, this appears to be CSR as a
    form of damage control, or reputational risk

Innovations in Crop Agriculture
  • New (non-soy) sources of protein synthesis
  • Algae
  • Grain crops
  • In vitro meat
  • Leaf protein extraction
  • Mycofungi
  • lupins
  • The marketability of non-transgenic but biotech
    borderline methods to GM-skeptical audiences
    (best example hybrid corn in the 1920s)
  • Seed coating
  • marker-assisted breeding
  • Genomic selection
  • Other innovations
  • Controlled release fertilizers
  • Increase fertilizer efficiency and crop yields,
    reduce losses through leaching, runoff,
    volatilization and denitrification

In Vitro Meat
  • Pasture and feed-producing lands for livestock
    account for 30 of the earths surface,
    contributing to desertification and other
    climate-change related events
  • Raises the possibility of creating designer
    ground beef with the fat profile of salmon
  • First In Vitro Meat Symposium held at the
    Norwegian Food Research Institute in April 2008
    indicated that large-scale in vitro meat
    production could be price-competitive with
    farm-raised meat (3400 Euros/ton, with
    unsubsidized chicken costing 1800 and beef just
    over 3500).
  • Patent claims made first US patent owned by Jon
    F. Vein for the production of tissue-engineered
    meat for human consumption (U.S. Patent
  • Still clearly in the early stages not likely to
    be profitable for some time, with processed meats
    available in a few years and unprocessed meats in
    a decade or more, but the most visible current
    players are New Harvest and the In Vitro Meat

  • Like in vitro meat, Algae is hampered by the
    yuck factor
  • While distinct from algal biofuel, food algae
    could be a potential co-product of fuel algae
  • The biggest recent player in the fuel algae game
    is Exxon Mobile, who partnered with Synthetic
    Genomics Inc. in July 2009 to invest 600 million
    in Algal fuels
  • Up with cellulosic ethanol as an in process
    technology rather than an existing one seems to
    me like it needs much more attention. Algae has
    the added advantage of being able to capture
    fertilizer runoff, thus potentially preventing
    oceanic eutrophication
  • Has the added advantage of possibly creating food
    as a co-product of fuel, most likely for animal
    feed in the form of pellets

Seed Coating
  • LandecAgs intellicoat (above)
  • ... is an agricultural technology company that
    specializes in temperature-activated seed
  • PlantTechs agristrike (below)
  • PlantTech is the largest Australian field crop,
    canola and pasture Seed Company, with an
    unsurpassed product range of leading proprietary
    cereal, oilseed, pasture, pulse and forage
    varieties, plus access to a comprehensive range
    of public varieties.
  • Other developments of note Plant Health Care
    Inc.s Myconate and Harpins technology (see ppt
    in notes)
  • Lesson neither of these companies appear at all
    green, but the technology does have various
    potential green applications.
  • It can greatly reduce insect pest, protect the
    environment, save the seeds (about 1/3 seeds),
    increase the output of crops (increase by 10-40)
    and promote the development of seeds project.

Genomic Selection
  • Using genomic selection for marker-assisted
    breeding, crop and animal breeders can select
    desirable alleles without actual gene splicing
  • "some of the most potent objection to transgenics
    actually has to do with the increase in market
    power that went along with some of the input
    companies. Genomic selection and marker-assisted
    breeding have exactly the same kind of economic
    power implications, if no more so, as
    transgenics. People who are upset about
    transgenics but think marker-assisted breeding is
    okay are just incredibly naive."
  • Paul Thompson (U. of Michigan), in a phone
  • Approximate position of 28 major genes mapped in
    different populations of apricot (blue
    background), peach (orange background), almond or
    almond peach (yellow background), and Myrobalan
    plum (green background) on the framework of the
    Prunus reference map (5). Gene abbreviations
    correspond to Y, peach flesh color B,
    almond/peach petal color sharka, plum pox virus
    resistance B, flower color in almond x peach
    Mi, nematode resistance from peach D, almond
    shell hardness Br, broomy plant habit Dl,
    double flower Cs, flesh color around the stone
    Ag, anther color Pcp, polycarpel Fc, flower
    color Lb, blooming date F, flesh adherence to
    stone D, non-acid fruit in peach, Sk, bitter
    kernel G, fruit skin pubescence Nl, leaf shape
    Dw, dwarf plant Ps, male sterility Sc, fruit
    skin color Gr, leaf color S , fruit shape S,
    self-incompatibility (almond and apricot) Ma,
    nematode resistance from Myrobalan plum E, leaf
    gland shape Sf, resistance to powdery mildew.
    Genes Dl and Br are located on an unknown
    position of G2.

Other Trends in Global Agriculture Land Grabs in
  • Various Asian and other governments are buying up
    huge tracts of land in Africa
  • The most notable example Korean company Daewoo
    caused Madagascar's government to collapse after
    a proposed deal to purchase over half of the
    countrys arable land

  • For better or for worse, we probably cant put
    this genie back in its bottle
  • Its often not the technology per se, but its
    effects on market control, that are particularly
  • Ideally, specific applications of crop
    biotechnology should be integrated into an
    agricultural system that includes
  • Crop rotation
  • Polycultures
  • Cover crops
  • Integrated pest management (IPM)
  • etc.

Aquaculture and Fisheries
  • -Key Lesson the barriers to international
    cooperation on sustainable fisheries indicates
    that the most short-term progress can be made in
    improving fish farming practices, especially in
    China (with many caveats).

Why is this happening?
  • Because consumer preferences for fish are highly
    substitutable, commercial fishers flying under
    flags of convenience practice slash and burn
    fishing, exploiting one species then moving on to
    the next
  • Tracking feed and fish is very difficult
    generally, a piece of fish looks like a piece of

Global Fisheries Crisis
  • On current course, collapse of all major
    fisheries by 2050. (Science, Nov. 8)
  • Tragedy of the commons / collective action
    problem (the regulators want to support their
    fishermenthey dont get elected by cutting back)
  • The problem of bycatch
  • Growing appetites
  • Shark Finning example

Capture Fisheries
  • Divisible by fishing area, gear and the main
    target species
  • North Sea herring purse seine fishery
  • Gulf of Mexico shrimp trawl fishery
  • southern ocean Patagonian toothfish longline
  • Some gear and species are inherently more
    unsustainable than others
  • Bottom trawling
  • Very long-lived species

  • Wild-caught shrimp catches up to 10 pounds of
    discarded sea life for every pound of shrimp
  • All major fisheries catch large amounts of
    bycatch, whether trawl, purse seine, or longline.
  • The problem is especially bad in illegal,
    unreported and unregulated (IUU) fisheries in
    developing countries

Bottom Trawling
  • The above image of the Gulf of Mexico, captured
    by the Landsat satellite in late 1999, shows the
    sediment trails left behind by individual ships
    (the bright spots) - a testament to the utter
    devastation the practice exerts on vast seafloor
  • Methods of reducing bottom trawl usage range from
    the campaign stunt to consumer purchasing to
    national and international regulation
  • Greenpeace-style sabotage by dumping rocks in the
    North Sea to prevent bottom trawling (potentially
    dangerous for fishermen)
  • Avoid flatfish (halibut, turbot, plaice, etc)

A case study in collapse
  • The North Atlantic Cod fishery has collapsed
  • The solution (would have been) honest assessment
    maximum sustainable yield with proper

The Insidious Role of Branding
  • Thanks to clever marketing, previously
    unpalatable fishes are becoming desirable
    delicacies which are fished (often illegally)
    using ecologically devastating bottom trawling
  • Which sounds better
  • Orange roughy, or slimefish?
  • Chilean Sea Bass, or Patagonian toothfish?

The Need for Intergovernmental Oversight
  • Fish tend not to care about 15-mile territorial
    waters or 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zones
    (EEZs), which makes transboundary
    intergovernmental oversight a must
  • The exclusive economic zone is an area beyond and
    adjacent to the territorial sea, subject to the
    specific legal regime established in this Part,
    under which the rights and jurisdiction of the
    coastal State and the rights and freedoms of
    other States are governed by the relevant
    provisions of this Convention ... In the
    exclusive economic zone, the coastal State has
    ... sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring
    and exploiting, conserving and managing the
    natural resources, whether living or non-living,
    of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of
    the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to
    other activities for the economic exploitation
    and exploration of the zone, such as the
    production of energy from the water, currents and
    winds ... The exclusive economic zone shall not
    extend beyond 200 nautical miles from the
    baselines from which the breadth of the
    territorial sea is measured. (from the UN
    Convention on the Law of the Sea UNCLOS)
  • 64 of the worlds ocean is international waters
    of that, 3/4ths is unmanaged
  • In 1995 there were more than 1.2 million decked
    fishing vessels in the world, up from just fewer
    than 600,000 in 1970.
  • much of this growth is government subsidized,
    which results in excess capacity and thus low
    margins for industry fishermen, who then have
    incentives to fish more.

Marine Stewardship Council
  • Founded in 1996 as Unilever/WWF collaboration
  • Founding mission to work for sustainable
    marine fisheries by promoting responsible,
    environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial
    and economically viable fisheries practices,
    while maintaining the biodiversity, productivity,
    and ecological processes of the marine
  • (Relative) success stories
  • Dolphin-safe tuna
  • Give Swordfish a Break Campaign pledge
  • Pledge by restaurants to not buy swordfish from
    the North Atlantic, where the average size of a
    swordfish has dropped from 266 lbs in the 1960s
    to 90 lbs at the time of the campaign (late
  • two hundred seventy chefs, major cruise lines,
    and Bon Apetit magazine had all joined the
    campaign. The campaign was credited by the 1998
    Annual Report on the United States Seafood
    Industry as a reason why swordfish had dropped
    from the top-1o best-selling seafood list.
  • Wild Alaskan salmon fisheries certification
  • Unlike the issue-specific and tangible cases of
    dolphins and swordfish, however, the MSC
    eco-label covers fish ranging from frozen cod in
    Britain to Alaskan Salmon to a range of other
    regulated marine capture fisheries
  • as of October 2008, there are nearly 2,000
    seafood products with the MSCs seal of approval
  • See the MSC Principles and Criteria for
    Sustainable Fishing for specifics

Other Marine Capture Success Stories
  • Maine Lobstermen
  • A complex system of informal social mechanisms
    have built up over time to respond to
    environmental feedback
  • New Zealand
  • World leader in the use of the Individual
    Transferable Quota (ITQ)a method strongly
    endorsed by The Economist in article after
    articleto regulate Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

The Keys to Sustainable Wild Caught
  • As the MSC and other cases indicate, the problem
    isnt that people dont know how to work towards
    sustainable fisheries. Barring a lack of
    scientific knowledge about the sea (out of
    sight, out of mind), they do. The problem,
    rather is a lack of political will and legal
    authority combined with a collective action
    problem relating to an exhaustible public good
  • That said, these are the things that work
  • restrictions on gear like nets so that smaller,
    younger fish can escape
  • limits on the total allowable catch
  • closing some areas to fishing
  • certifying fisheries as sustainable
  • offering shares of the total allowable catch to
    each person who fishes in a specified area.
  • Work with existing national and international
    legal jurisdictions to maximize utility (x at 25
    million km, the EU has the worlds largest EEZ,
    granting considerable importance to its (much
    criticized) Common Fisheries Policy

Impediments to Sustainable Wild Caught
  • International Trade Law
  • Tuna-Dolphin and Shrimp-Turtle at the WTO the
    case law is evolving, but slowly
  • Maximum sustainable yield can be very difficult
    to determine fish populations and migration
    patterns are, in some cases, still very poorly
  • Tragedy of the Commons

Growth of Aquaculture
  • Key lesson for better or for worse, aquaculture
    is the only way to prevent oceanic collapse
    barring a decline in demand for seafood (which
    doesnt look likely). The logical conclusion is
    to make sure fish farming is done as well as

Growth of Aquaculture (2)
  • Given this change, the potential benefits (and
    harms) are enormousfar too little focus is on
    improving large-scale Asian freshwater fisheries.
    Barring greater oversight and enforceability of
    regulations, it will be hard to make progress on
    this front.

Why especially in China?
Note the big red square (see notes for uncut
Why Tilapia?
  • Large size, rapid growth, omnivorous diet, high
    stocking density tolerance, no planktonic phase
  • GIFT Tilapia
  • GIFT, or Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia,
    grows 60 per cent faster and has a 50 per cent
    higher survival rate to adulthood than the
    original fish. Sometimes also known as the Super
    Tilapia, the fish was developed through vigorous
    selection-breeding programs -- the first time a
    tropical food fish has been improved using such
    methods. The fish used to breed GIFT was the Nile
    tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus).

HQ Sustainable Maritime Industries
  • Exports tilapia to US, Korea, Japan, and Mexico
    from its facilities in Hainan, China
  • Mission statement
  • To bring quality to every aspect of HQ's
    vertically integrated aquatic products business.
  • To lead China in penetrating world seafood
  • Increase profitability through the introduction
    of zero-toxin products while respecting the
    environment and communities in which it works.
  • Best Aquaculture Practices Certified (potentially
    problematic see next slide but is currently
    the only major standards-setting organization for

Best Aquaculture Practices
  • Implemented by the Aquaculture Certification
    Council (ACC) of the Global Aquaculture Alliance
  • The ACC is a process certification currently
    certifies shrimp hatcheries, shrimp, tilapia and
    channel catfish farms and seafood processing
    plants to include shrimp, channel catfish and
  • Although ostensibly independent, the GAA is
    effectively an industry consortium. According to
    Food and Water Watch, Their process combines
    annual site inspections and effluent sampling,
    but allows for certain use of antibiotics and
    chemicals. Although GAAs standards are more
    measurable than most others, they have received
    criticism from several organizations, including
    the Mangrove Action Project and Environmental
    Justice Foundation, for flawed standards that
    fail to adequately protect mangrove ecosystems.

Aquaculture the Bad and the Good
  • The Good
  • Barring any precipitous change in demand for
    seafood, sustainable aquaculture is vital to
    prevent massive fisheries collapse
  • Inherently more controllable than marine capture
  • If well managed, can provide plentiful protein at
    a low Food Conversion Ratio (FCR) while cycling
    wastes and nutrientsthis is generally easier
    with freshwater than marine aquaculture
  • The Bad
  • Harmful to mangrove ecosystems (shrimp) and
    marine ecosystems (marine aquaculture)
  • Mangrove forests protect against tsunamis,
    hurricanes, and eutrophication by maintaining
    intact ecosystems
  • PCBs
  • Standards are often ignored
  • A friend of mine saw firsthand massive amounts of
    illegal antibiotic feeding in Asian aquaculture
  • Serious potential for disease outbreak
  • White Spot Disease in Shrimp
  • Infections Salmon Anemia (ISA) in Latin American
    farmed salmon
  • Fishmeal trawling for carnivorous fish
  • cage-based coastal salmon farming ex 90 of GHG
    result from fishmeal)

Examples of conflicting preferences organic fish
and sustainable tuna
  • Whereas fish feed is usually 50 fishmeal (which
    can be made from unsold fish and fish offal, or
    small whole fish) and 50 grain, organic salmon
    must use fishmeal from sustainable fisheries
    intended for human consumption.
  • Clean Seas Tuna, Ltd. is trying to breed southern
    bluefin tuna, which is being massively overfished
    to satisfy demand for fatty tuna in sushi. They
    are also developing wheat pellets to feed their
    marine-caged tuna. This is a stopgap measure in
    the sense that it is responding to market demand
    rather than trying to reshape demand.

Marine or Freshwater Aquaculture?
  • Harder to regulate generally than freshwater
  • More likely to cause disease transference to wild
  • However, some species can only be farmed in
    marine systems
  • Freshwater aquaculture is generally better than
    marine aquaculture, as most of the fish raised
    are herbivorous (carp, tilapia)

The Case of Farmed Shrimp
  • Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the US
  • (depending on who you believe,) has destroyed
    more than 30 of the worlds coastal mangroves
  • Requires 2 lbs of fishmeal and squid to make 1 lb
    of shrimp
  • Various countries at severe risk for White Spot

-A growing trend in Indonesia
Organic Shrimp
  • EcoCamaronera Bahiathe worlds first certified
    organic shrimp farmpractices mangrove-friendly
    methods in Ecuador, as does Biocentinela.
  • Like all shrimpers in Ecuador, both are at heavy
    risk for white spot disease
  • OceanBoy farms is an inland marine shrimp farm in
    Florida that has ACC organic shrimp certification
    and USDA organic seafood certification (the first
    to get it).
  • They have a very high ration of shrimp per foot,
    but they pump in extra oxygen and clean the water
    frequently. There is a higher risk for disease if
    poorly managed, but is otherwise a fruitful model

Neptune Industries
  • Boca Raton-based Aqua Biologics (a division of
    Neptune Industries) has focused on ento-proteins
    as well as algal waste recycling and biodiesel
  • Needs more research has apparently gone through
    bankruptcy early in 2009
  • it looks like they went through bankruptcy, the
    fish and other things were sold off but the
    patent and technology were taken by the majority
    shareholder. He then leased the technology back
    to the company with the right to buy it

The Role of GM Fish AquAdvantage Salmon
  • AquAdvantage salmon, developed by Aqua Bounty
  • Aqua Bounty is developing advanced-hybrid
    salmon, trout, and tilapia designed to grow
    faster than traditional fish. AquAdvantage
    Salmon (AAS) reach market size twice as fast as
    traditional salmon. This advancement provides a
    compelling economic benefit to farmers (reduced
    growing cycle) as well as enhancing the economic
    viability of inland operations, thereby
    diminishing the need for ocean pens. AAS are also
    reproductively sterile, which eliminates the
    threat of interbreeding amongst themselves or
    with native populations, a major recent concern
    in dealing with fish escaping from salmon farms.
  • The company has spent more than a decade chasing
    regulatory approval from the FDA, but FDA
    officials have reportedly said it is coming
    soon, especially in light of the recent
    pharmed goats ruling.

Solutions (Aquaculture)
  • Good aquaculture references (recommended by
    friend who works in fisheries)
  • http//
  • http//
  • Greater independence for certification bodies
  • The largest certification body to date, the
    Global Aquaculture Alliances Best Aquaculture
    Practices, is probably too caught up with fishing
    interests to provide a neutral assessment of
    environmental and other impacts
  • Supporting feed inputs other than wild-caught
  • Ento-protein progress by Neptune Industries
    using insects rather than fish to provide feed
    proteinthe company itself, however, may be a
    poor investment
  • Algae pellets
  • Traditional Chinese aquaculture
  • 4,000 years old, and from which the Chinese have
    actually moved towards Western methods
  • Rears herbivorous and carnivorous species in the
    same pond using plants to serve as food
    (eliminates fishmeal and is ecosystem-based
    approach integrated multi-trophic
  • This model can also use ducks/chickens in an
    integrated system where their poop makes algae
    for the fish to eat (so that you only have to
    feed the chickens and you get two crops) but
    not done on a large scale

Solutions (Consumer)
  • Support
  • farmed herbivorous species consumption tilapia,
    bream, carp and catfish with BAP certification or
    (better yet) Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
  • Ex) the 2009 Northeast Seafood watch endorses US
    farmed tilapia as best choices, South American
    farmed tilapia as good alternatives, and Asian
    farmed tilapia as to avoid
  • small marine capture species consumption
    sardines, anchovies, mackerel, herring, etc.
  • Reputable certified wild carnivorous fish

  • Tight margins are not easily amenable to large
    scale modification of practices, creating
    disincentives to change towards more sustainable
    programs (or, as one of my professors said, the
    numbers tend to cut down your options
  • The sustainable fish are often not the
    much-touted Omega 3-rich fish (they are, however,
    lower down the food chain and are thus lower in
    PCB and Mercury contamination levels).
  • The nature of global fisheries oversight is a
    classic case of market failure, with overfishing
    causing some sectors to go through a Hubbert
    curve not unlike that of peak oil.
  • In many cases, the demand for seafood is
    voracious and indiscriminate, particularly in the
    Chinese delicacy market

Why does ocean health matter, anyway?
  • Ocean health is vital for coral health, and coral
    reefs serve as nursery, farm, and home to one
    third of all marine fish species.
  • The bottom line we really dont know the full
    diversity of ecosystem services provided by sea
  • Example July 30, 2009 NPR story, Jellyfish May
    Help Keep Planet Cool

Animal Agriculture
  • Types of Concerns
  • Environmental
  • Labor Practices
  • Human Health
  • Animal Welfare

Whats the Problem?
  • As Wendell Berry has tartly observed, to take
    animals off farms and put them on feedlots is to
    take an elegant solutionanimals replenishing the
    fertility that crops depleteand neatly divide it
    into two problems a fertility problem on the
    farm and a pollution problem on the feedlot. The
    former problem is remedied with fossil-fuel
    fertilizer the latter is remedied not at all.
  • Michael Pollan, Farmer in Chief

A Ridiculously Short History of Conventional
  • The Haber-Bosch Nitrogen fixing process
    quintuples the available ammonia supply for crop
    fertilizer in 1909
  • Dramatically changes the global Nitrogen cycle,
    which is only beginning to be properly understood
  • To make a long story short leftover munitions
    and biological agents (i.e., nitrogen and
    phosphorous) after WWII become fertilizer and
    pest/herbicides, which along with govt. crop
    subsidies make CAFOs economically viable
  • Earl Butz appointed Secretary of Agriculture by
    Nixon get big or get out
  • Vertical integration, economies of scale, and
    globally provisioned supply chains (following
    market liberalization)

What is a CAFO, exactly?
  • Under EPA regulations, a Concentrated (or
    Confined) Animal Feeding Operation is any AFO
    that contains at least 300 cattle, or 600 swine
    or sheep, or 30,000 fowl (somewhat variable by
    state these are the stats for Indiana)
  • Between 1967 and 1997, the number of swine farms
    fell from over a million to 157,000 with the top
    3 producing 60 of all us hogs. By 2000,
    operations with 5,000 or more hogs comprised 50
    of US production

The Livestock Revolution
  • A structural change, termed the livestock
    revolution, is taking place around the world but
    with particular intensity in East Asia
  • Multinational supermarket and fast food chain
    expansion creates demand for streamlined
    intensive meat production
  • The availability of cheap course grain on
    international markets has increased the global
    CAFO focus on monogastric animals like chicken
    and hogs
  • At current rates, Global meat/milk demand to
    double within 50 years
  • 80 of current growth in industrial systems
  • Developing countries overtook developed countries
    in meat production in 1996

Livestock and the Environment
  • In addition to all of the problems already cited
    with crop agriculture (animal agriculture uses
    33 of world grain and 66 of US grain),
    categories of concern include
  • Carbon impact
  • Acid deposition
  • Eutrophication
  • Groundwater contamination
  • Watershed disruption
  • Increased soil erosion and lower soil fertility

Livestocks Carbon Impact
  • 18 of GHGs, says LEAD
  • Caveat these kinds of calculations are
    ridiculously complicated and situation-specific
  • Ruminants produce methane (mostly by burping,
    actually) red meat and dairy are the worst
    carbon offenders
  • Fertilizers/manure release nitrous Oxide (N20)

Acid Deposition(and Acid Rain)
  • Livestock contributes 64 of global ammonia (NH3)
    in the form of tropospheric reactive nitrogen
  • Livestock also contributes to ammonia
    volatizationin which ammonia is nitrified in the
    soil after deposition
  • Causes oceanic acidification, which destroys
    coral reefs and other oceanic ecosystems

  • Causes and effects of eutrophication
  • Livestock Uses 33 of world grain and 66 of US
  • Manure stored in open pits (lagoons) can spill
    or overflow during extreme weather causing
    nitrogen runoff, and precipitation can carry
    vaporized NH3 from manure pits to nearby
  • Nitrogen fertilizer from crops used to feed
    animals contributes to algal blooms and oceanic
    dead zones
  • For one example, according to the USDA in 1997,
    operations in 165 US counties resulted in 1.5
    billion tons of nitrogen outputs from manure in
    excess of absorption capacity of adjacent lands

Groundwater Contamination
  • Groundwater accounts for approximately 40 of the
    water used in the US water supply
  • Groundwater contamination can cause E. coli
    poisoning and blue baby syndrome. Surface water
    contamination can cause illness from
    cryptosporidium, giardia, and pfisteria.
  • -stats on rural water quality

But this stuff is all too general
  • In light of the past 4 slides the following
    passage becomes more understandable
  • Fewer policy options exist for controlling the
    impact of diffuse, non-point source pollution
    from agricultural production. Non-point
    discharges are difficult to monitor because they
    occur over wide areas and vary from day to day
    depending on weather conditions and the frequency
    and timing of application of potential
  • Managing the Livestock Revolution, The World Bank

Labor Practices and Environmental Justice
  • CAFO sourcing determined by land and labor price,
    creating disproportionate health and
    environmental hazards for the rural poor from
    ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, particulate matter,
    and methane
  • Livestocks Long Shadow documents similar trends
    away from peri-urban areas towards rural areas in
  • Additionally, according to the FAO, the
    environmental problems created by industrial
    production systems derive not from their large
    scale, nor their production intensity, but rather
    from their geographical location and

Human Health Concerns
  • WHO 75 of recent diseases are zoonotic
  • EPA noncompliance with CWA/CAA
  • Recent antibiotics victory

Animal Welfare
  • I could talk for a very long time about this
  • Different parameters inhere for different species
    and different farming systems, but animal welfare
    standards generally build on the five freedoms,
    which were developed and popularized by the
    British Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC)
  • 1. Freedom from Hunger and Thirst - by ready
    access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full
    health and vigor.
  • 2. Freedom from Discomfort - by providing an
    appropriate environment including shelter and a
    comfortable resting area.
  • 3. Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease - by
    prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  • 4. Freedom to Express Normal Behavior - by
    providing sufficient space, proper facilities and
    company of the animal's own kind.
  • 5. Freedom from Fear and Distress - by ensuring
    conditions and treatment which avoid mental
  • Can actually conflict with the environmental (x)
    grass-fed cows actually produce more methane than
    grain-fed ones (this ignores, however, the other
    problems involved in industrial corn and soy

Niman Ranch a case study in the problematic
economics of happy meat
  • The original provider of humane meat to Chipotle
    Market Grill
  • Bill Niman was forced to sell his share in
    Natural Food Holdings LLC, and he now boycotts
    Niman Ranch for their transport to slaughter and
    microbial use policies
  • The net effect until a consumer market exists
    that is willing to capture the various extra
    costs of humane meat, it wont be profitable in
    the US

Other Concerns
  • Genetic uniformity in large-scale livestock
    (comparable to crop agriculture) results in mass
    disease susceptibility
  • Chickens bred for meat share 30 percent or more
    of their genes, while some laying hens share 90
  • Raises global market demand for grain, especially
    soya raised at the expense of the Amazonian
  • Greenpeace documented an illegal port Cargill
    built in the Brazilian Amazon to export Soya to
  • Land conversion in Brazilian grasslands has
    doubled the hectares producing Soya in the past
    decade to 21 million ha in 2005, and is expected
    to grow by 40 million ha or more

  • As with crop biotech, the solutions fall into
    two categories those that address Berrys
    original concern (fundamental solutions), and
    those that work within the confines of
    conventional agriculture (stopgap solutions).
    Both should be applauded, especially if
    fundamental change appears unlikely, but in the
    long term technofixes are unlikely to solve many
    of the food industrys systemic environmental
  • Solutions can be further subdivided into
    governmental (and intergovernmental) solutions,
    producer solutions, and consumer solutions

Stopgap solutions
  • Animal ag solution
  • Define CAFOs as point sources under the CWA (in
    process see law blog link)
  • Carbon solution
  • Changing animals feed or developing transgenic
    animals that fart/burp less or better
  • ex adding 2 fish oil to cows feed may reduce
    methane emissions by 20
  • Aquaculture solution
  • Breeding tuna
  • Eutrophication solution
  • Controlled-release fertilizers
  • Biotech solution
  • Drought-resistant GM crops

Fundamental Solutions
  • Following Michael Pollans advice Changing the
    Western diet and modern farm policy
  • Changing our diets
  • A more recent piece by Pollan, Out of the
    Kitchen, Onto the Couch, indicates that in order
    to change the way we eat we need to change the
    way we cook (or, rather, dont cook).
  • Changing farm policy
  • Michael Pollans Farmer in Chief provides a
    good outline

National Solutions
  • Reform the farm bill
  • Title I Commodity programs (temporary since
    1933) incentivize farmers to farm the programs
    and eschew specialty crops like fruits and
    vegetables, which also gives CAFO operators an
    incentive not to switch to integrated
  • EPA oversight of CWA and CAA provisions should
    overturn a history of right-to-farm laws
    protecting CAFOs
  • The CWA requires livestock permits for large
    installations, but, as of 2006, the US had issued
    only 2,520 of the 13,000 permits required by 2001
    EPA estimates, and CAFO compliance is rarely
  • Additionally, although the CAA is meant to
    regulate air pollution, every CAFO to date has
    negotiated an administrative consent agreement
    with the EPA to circumvent CAA requirements

International Attention
  • Relevant Multilateral Environmental Agreements
    (MEAs) include
  • the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
  • The Convention on Long Range Transboundary Air
    Pollutants (LRTAP)
  • The 1999 Gothenburg Protocol to Abate
    Acidification, Eutrophication, and Ground Level
  • The Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • IO progress is divisible into the domains of
    animal welfare, environmental control, and
    humanitarian assistance (although the three often
    overlap and even conflict)
  • In Animal Welfare, the World Organization for
    Animal Health (the OIE in French) is spearheading
    international animal welfare guidelines
  • More generally, FAO/LEAD, UNEP, the World Bank
    (and IBRD) are all shaping the dialogue

Producer/Retailer Solutions
  • Whether to forestall impending regulation or as a
    form of reputational risk management, the
    following companies have all implemented programs
    intended to improve animal welfare
  • McDonalds
  • Burger King
  • Wolfgang Pucks
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill
  • The National Council of Chain Restaurants and the
    Food Marketing Institute (NCCR/FMI)

Other Critical Issues Ive Ignored
  • Local Food (and when it is and isnt green)
  • Transportation itself accounts for only 11
    percent of foods greenhouse emissions, and food
    miles (distribution from producer to consumer)
    accounts for only 4 percent
  • Again, however, people have a panoply of reasons
    for their purchasing choices (might be more
    interested in supporting local business, just as
    I would sooner eat beef than pork or chicken on
    animal welfare grounds whereas some would do the
    opposite on carbon footprint grounds.
  • The health ramifications of the various issues
    Ive discussed I recommend Marion Nestles What
    to Eat as an excellent guide to these questions.
  • Corn-fed marbling or grass-fed beef?
  • Farmed whitefish with crowding toxins or
    swordfish with bioaccumulated mercury?
  • Similarly regarding the famed Omega-3s in
    Salmonjust as much of which can be found in
    trophically lower sardines and herring.

Recap of Key Lessons
  • Biotech
  • GM foods are probably here to stay, but global
    agriculture still requires a paradigm shift to
    become truly sustainable
  • Fisheries/Aquaculture
  • Aquaculture needs an independent ecolabeling and
    certification organization like that of the MSC
    to supplement the industry-influenced GAA
  • A much greater emphasis on restaurant dining is
    required, given the high proportion of seafood
    eaten in restaurants
  • Animal Ag
  • Beyond all of the environmental and human health
    concerns, much higher levels of consumer
    information are required to prevent market

Companies and Practices to Watch
  • Companies
  • GTC Biotherapeutics
  • Performance Plants Incorporated
  • New Harvest
  • Plant Health Care Inc.
  • In Vitro Meat Consortium
  • HQ Sustainable Maritime Industries
  • OceanBoy Farms
  • Biocentinela
  • Clean Seas Tuna, Ltd.
  • Neptune Industries (Aqua Biologics)
  • Aqua Bounty Farms
  • Niman Ranch / CMG
  • Practices
  • Crop Agriculture
  • Controlled Release Fertilizer
  • Drought-resistant crops
  • Feed
  • In vitro meat

Additional articles Ive come across since
writing this (see notes for links)
  • Economist piece on Tuna collapse (no surprise)
    and the possible failure of the Alaskan Pollock
    fishery (surpriseits very highly regulated)
  • (A rather disturbing) editorial from the New
    Scientist Pain-free animals could take
    suffering out of farming (assumes that only
    negative preferences matteri.e., pleasure or
    satisfaction is irrelevant also ignores non-pain