An overfished planet needs a better solution. Fortunately, it's coming.
- Cell-based fish companies are getting funding and making progress in offering a new wave of seafood.
- Overfishing and rising ocean temperatures are destroying entire ecosystems.
- The reality of cell-based fish is likely five to 10 years away.
Future of Food: This genetically engineered salmon may hit U.S. markets as early as 2020<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="466fe20063a2292a48789f370c04ea13"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/bco7rPyKwec?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>While cell-based beef is getting all the press, companies like BlueNalu recently raised $24.5 million in funding. The San Diego-based start-up <a href="https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/story/2019-12-25/lab-grown-fish-just-got-real-san-diego-startup-shows-off-first-slaughter-free-yellowtail#:~:text=A%20San%20Diego%20foodtech%20startup,many%20researchers%20only%20dream%20of" target="_blank">extracts</a> muscle cells from an anesthetized fish, treats the cells with enzymes in a culture, places the mixture in a nutrient solution in a bioreactor, spins it all around in a centrifuge, and finally 3D-prints the new concoction into the desired shape.</p><p>The goal isn't to perfectly replicate a fish that you'd find on ice in your local market. No brain, skin, organs, or even possibility of consciousness are in this creature. In a strange twist, this makes cell-based seafood a potential food source for vegetarians and vegans, since the Adam fish can be returned to the waters unharmed. </p><p>One current solution to overfishing—fish farms—comes with it a host of problems, including the proliferation of sea lice, which have a tendency to escape the porous boundaries to infect wild fish. Bonus: with cell-based fish, you won't run into any issues with mercury or <a href="https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/microplastics-soil" target="_self">microplastics</a>. </p><p>What you'll (hopefully) purchase is a good-tasting product, which has thus far been elusive. BlueNalu CEO, <a href="https://apnews.com/5327a2c3a8e74adab0cc63d5994ffc72" target="_blank">Lou Cooperhouse</a>, is confident his company's product will eventually meet standards set by your taste buds. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Our medallions of yellowtail can be cooked via direct heat, steamed or even fried in oil; can be marinated in an acidified solution for applications like poke, ceviche, and kimchi, or can be prepared in the raw state."</p>
Photo: aleksandr / Shutterstock<p>There are barriers, of course. As with pluripotent meats, cell-based fish are expensive. A spicy salmon roll produced by the start-up, Wildtype, <a href="https://singularityhub.com/2020/09/16/this-startup-is-growing-sushi-grade-salmon-from-cells-in-a-lab/" target="_blank">cost $200</a> to make. It's going to take a while for the price to drop and consumer demand to rise; estimates are five to ten years.</p><p>Another issue is indicative of solar power and wind energy trying to cut in on Big Oil: the seafood industry doesn't want to lose its profit margin. Of course, like oil companies, Big Seafood is betting on a finite resource. The sooner they realize that, the better. </p><p>Then there's production, which is where education comes into play. Former BlueNalu Chairman Chris Somogyi tries to <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/05/05/720041152/seafood-without-the-sea-will-lab-grown-fish-hook-consumers" target="_blank">demystify</a> the laboratory process. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"We aren't using CRISPR technology. We aren't introducing new molecules into the diet. We're not introducing a new entity that doesn't exist in nature. The approval will be about whether this is safe, clean and are the manufacturing processes reliable and accountable."</p><p>If there's an ick factor to cell-based fish, remember that most processed foods are already created in laboratories. There are no Oreo trees or ketchup plants to harvest. </p><p>For now, these start-ups and others like them will have to figure out how to create non-energy-intensive and cost-prohibitive solutions for spinning up seafood inside of a petri dish. Novelty alone will create enough demand to get them going, as <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/04/beyond-meat-bynd-q2-2020-earnings.html#:~:text=Net%20sales%20rose%2069%25%20to,since%20many%20are%20temporarily%20shuttered." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">precedent</a> in the lab-grown meat industry shows. </p><p>The reality is that we need to go down this path. There are too many humans and not enough resources. While we can hope (as David Attenborough does in his <a href="https://www.netflix.com/title/80216393" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new Netflix documentary</a>) that national governments will create more no-fish zones, there's no guarantee that will happen. We need science to win this one. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His new book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
The American economy may be locked into an unhealthy cycle that only benefits a select few. Is it too late to fix it?
- What will the economy of the future look like? To answer that we must first consider the current trajectory and the ways in which modern capitalism operates, who it benefits, and if it is sustainable.
- In this video, historians, economists, and authors discuss income and wealth inequality, how the American economy grew into the machine that it is today, the pillars of capitalism and how the concept has changed over time, and ways in which the status quo can, and maybe even should, change.
- "It's not that hierarchy is bad," says John Fullerton, founder of Capital Institute, "it's that hierarchy where the top extracts from below is definitely bad and unsustainable." He says that the modern capitalist system works this way, and that it perpetuates the cycle of growing inequality.
Two of Iceland's largest whaling companies are keeping their boats in port this summer. One of them permanently.
- Since the International Whaling Commission's ban on whaling went into effect in 1986, only three countries are still whaling: Norway, Iceland, and Japan.
- The whale-watching industry is rapidly eclipsing whaling in Iceland these days.
- If you visit Iceland, don't eat the whale meat — Icelanders don't.
In 1982, 25 member nations of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) voted to ban commercial whaling by 1986. Seven nation voted against the ban: Brazil, Iceland, South Korea, Japan, Norway, Peru, and the-then Soviet Union. Nonetheless, in 1986, large-scale hunting of whales ended worldwide. Mostly.
Norway never stopped whaling, and Iceland resumed whaling in 2003. Japan exited the IWC in 2019 and announced they would be ending their already-controversial annual Antarctic whaling expeditions and resuming commercial whaling in their territorial waters and in the country's 200-mile exclusive economic zone along its coast, claiming research as their reason for doing so. According to the World Wildlife Federation, 31,984 whales have been killed since the moratorium when into effect.
Iceland's two largest whaling companies have just announced they're going keep their ships ashore for the 2020 whaling season. The companies' motivations are apparently strictly monetary. "I'm never going to hunt whales again, I'm stopping for good ," Gunnar Bergmann Jonsson of the minke whaling company IP-Utgerd told Agence France-Presse (AFP). The second company, Hvalur, which hunts fin whales, has only committed to halting operations for 2020. Neither company was out on the seas in 2019 due to low catches in recent years and other financial consideration.
Minke whale, (left), and a fin whale, (right)
Jonsson explained his decision to stop whaling to AFP as being primarily a reaction to an extension of the no-fishing coastal zone that forced his ships out further in search of whales, saying the change made continuing no longer financially feasible.
The CEO of Hvalu, Kristján Loftsson, explained his thinking to Icelandic newspaper, Morganbladid. Loftsson claimed that social distancing was a factor since it made operating vessels and processing whale meat more difficult. This doesn't explain why his ships stayed home in 2019.
A more plausible explanation would be that Japan — the company's primary market — has become less hospitable to his whale meat. He told Morganbladid that Japanese government subsidies for domestic whalers made it difficult for him to compete. It's also the case that people in Japan are eating less whale meat.
A sea change
Image source: Chris Yang/Unsplash
Árni Finnsson, chairman of the Iceland Nature Conservation Association tells National Geographic there's another reason for Jonsson and Loftsson calling it quits: public sentiment is turning against the whaling industry. Finnson says, "What has changed is that the fishing industry is not willing to support him anymore. They feel that Iceland needs to be able to export fish to the U.S. market, and they don't want to continue defending whaling. I think he's done."
In fact, Icelanders overall are less in favor of whaling, particularly in light of a newly booming industry: whale watching, which grew from 15-34% each year between 2012 and 2016. The most popular area for catching a glimpse of the animals is the eastern part of the large Faxaflói Bay.
These waters are minke territory. To keep whale-lovers and whalers apart, a small sanctuary in the bay was created in 2007. That was expanded by the government at the urging of Icewhale, an association of whale-watching companies in 2017. The enlarged sanctuary included the waters where 321 of the 335 minkes caught by Icelandic whalers between 2007 and 2016 were harvested, thus pushing whalers such as Jonnson out to sea.
In addition, while whale meat was never highly regarded in Iceland, and a recent poll found that just 1% of Inlanders now eat whale meat regularly while 84% say they never have.
"Hunting whales with cameras delivers economic benefits to coastal communities around the world, and Iceland is pointing the way," says Patrick Ramage, of the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW).
Even Norway is showing signs that the days of whaling may be coming to an end: The number of whaling vessels in 2017 was half of what it was in 2016, and just a third of the officially allowed number of whales were being taken during that time.
Americans consume the most toilet paper in the world but it's a very wasteful product to manufacture, according to the numbers.
- Toilet paper consumption is unsustainable and requires a tremendous amount of resources to produce.
- Americans use the most toilet paper in the world and have been hoarding it due to coronavirus.
- Alternatives to toilet paper are gaining more popularity with the public.
A senior citizen gets the last pack of toilet rolls at Sainsbury's Supermarket on March 19, 2020 in Northwich, United Kingdom.
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Women buy toilet paper from tradesman in street market by the City Wall, Xian, China. March 14, 2020.
Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images
Customers purchase toilet paper at a Target store in Orlando, FL during the panic shopping. March, 2020.
Credit: Paul Hennessy / Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
The welfare state is broken. UBI is the smarter, more effective option.
- The welfare state is an ineffective and expensive system that hurts and targets the poor more than it helps. Universal basic income is a better alternative that could work.
- The question becomes, then, where would the money for UBI come from? There are a myriad of reasons why UBI via taxes would be a bad idea. Instead, we should look to socially produced capital.
- Companies rely on people to be successful, so a percentage of all shares of all companies should go into a public equity trust and the dividends should be distributed to every member of society equally.