Tuesday, April 19, 2016

19/04/2016: Triple Pundit: Feeding the animals we eat: fish farming vs land farming

Image: Loozrboy
What does the future look like for our food-production systems? In short, it can’t look like the present, Scott Nichols writes in the Triple Pundit.

Our current agriculture uses 38 percent of the world’s land and 70 percent of its water.  But experts say we need to double (or nearly so) our food production by mid century.  With our current practices, we aren’t poised to deliver anything near that amount — 70 percent can’t be doubled nor, practically, can 38 percent.

To meet our future food needs, agriculture must be done quite differently.  Discontinuous change is needed as we learn how to do more with less.

In a recent article about changing agriculture practices, Jillian Fry of Johns Hopkins University and her colleagues address changes in farmed fish diets. In their article, titled Environmental Health Impacts Of Feeding Crops To Farmed Fish, they discuss the increasing use of crop-based ingredients to replace ingredients that come from wild-caught fish. Of the change, they write: “ … Multidisciplinary research is needed to understand the ecological and environmental health implications.”

Fair enough. As we face crucial choices in meeting future demands for nutritious food, it’s important to examine the possible ramifications of those choices before they are made.

Curiously, however, while the article has a lengthy review and commentary on crop production practices, it doesn’t speak to its title.  We are left to wonder:  Just what are the environmental health impacts of feeding crops to farmed fish? What role should aquaculture play in our food future?  How does fish farming compare with terrestrial animal agriculture in the use of crop-based feeds?

More helpful is an analysis to compare the efficiency with which crops are used by both terrestrial and aquatic farm-raised animals. Here, I compare the crop-based resources needed to raise salmon, beef, pork and chicken.

Read the full article in the Triple Pundit HERE

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