11 April 2019

Two scholars from Utrecht, participating in FEED-X programme

Sustainable alternatives for feed for salmon and shrimp

Andea Keessen en Matija Kajic van de Universiteit Utrecht in FEED-X workshop
Andea Keessen and Matija Kajic of Utrecht University in FEED-X workshop.

Two researchers from the Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law, Andrea Keessen and Matija Kajic, participated in the FEED-X programme. The vision of FEED-X is to remove the barriers to more affordable and sustainable food production in the global feed industry by 2030.

It is first focused on salmon and shrimp, as two aquaculture species with particular feed requirements and industry structures to cater to. The expected impact of the project is to significantly reduce environmental impacts (of aquacultured seafood) related to feed ingredient production. Andrea Keessen en Matija Kajic reviewed the legal conditions imposed on alternative, potentially more sustainable feed ingredients, processes, techniques and methods.

A New Fishmeal Recipe 

Their findings can be found in the report The Path to Legally Introducing a New Fishmeal Recipe. Keessen and Kajic took the in aquaculture fisheries of salmon and shrimp in the  EU and the U.S. as an example. With regard to feed ingredients, the assessment is focused on food and feed safety. For processes, techniques and methods, other legal fields come into play, in particular maritime law

Remarkable findings are: 

  • First, that the legal approach for salmon and shrimp is the same. Therefore, it is expected that the legal assessment can also be useful for other aquaculture species.
  • Second, it is striking that so many alternatives are already approved and on the market, and therefore easy to introduce in aquaculture both in the EU and the US. Overall, the results show that regulation will frequently not constitute an obstacle to the introduction of alternatives. One should not become overly optimistic though. Where approval is needed, it can be complex and time-consuming. In general, the more novel an ingredient is (e.g. a production that is not commonly used, using special strains of bacteria, yeast, algae and so on), the more complex and time-consuming the legal approval procedure becomes.
  • Third, while EU and US legislation are perceived to be very different, the outcomes are frequently the same. Important differences between the EU and the US arise with regard to the use of manure and sludge to feed animals and potential cannibalism. While the EU bans these practices, the US does not.  
  • Fourth, at the international level, NGOs have added sustainability requirements. However, meeting these requirements is voluntary, and is only visible through labeling.  

World Wildlife Fund

FEED-X is one of the pilot projects of Project X Global, a WWF-founded corporate systems accelerator that helps organisations make shifts in their sustainability agenda.  "There are not enough resources to provide sufficient food for a 9.5 billion population in 2050", is stated on the website. "Our first pilot, FEED-X has the goal to enable at least 10% of the global food industry to adopt alternative nutrients into their value chains." Participants are Harvard University, Wageningen University Research, Utrecht University, Edinburgh University, Blonk Consultants, Brand Legacy en FAI Farms.