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Concern over industrialisation of Asian aquaculture

Rob Fletcher
Rob Fletcher
14 August 2017, at 9:30am

Today a major new report has warned that global pensions and savings funds could face a serious bout of ‘financial food poisoning’ due to poor standards of food safety, antibiotic use and environmental management in the Asian meat, dairy and seafood sectors.

The report from investor network FAIRR and specialist consultancy ARE (Asia Research and Engagement) highlights Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development  (OECD) predictions that Asian meat supply will grow 19% by 2025, and urges investors to treat the rise of intensive factory farming across Asia with extreme caution. 

“Investors have a big appetite for Asia’s animal protein sector. But growth is driven by a boom in factory farming which tends to mean more emissions and more epidemics, abuse of antibiotics and abuse of labour. All risks to returns,” said Jeremy Coller, Founder of the FAIRR Initiative and CIO of Coller Capital.

The aquaculture section in the report was written by Jonah van Beijnen, an expert in the sustainability of aquaculture and fisheries projects. He explains that, like the meat production sector, aquaculture producers in Asia continue to shift towards more intensive farming practices. This approach goes hand-in-hand with an increased use of antimicrobials, resulting in public health risks from the potential development of antibiotic-resistant microbes. While regulations to curb excessive antibiotics use in top-producing nations such as China and Vietnam is becoming stricter, producers are now shifting to neighbouring countries with weaker legislative systems.

The report adds that, besides these public health and food safety concerns, intensive farming systems for seafood can leave a very large environmental footprint – including the destruction of mangrove forests for pond development, the production of large quantities of farm waste and the proliferation of parasites and diseases in open-cage environments. And, although many companies in Asia are not currently charged for their environmental damage, this is expected to change in the near future, with anticipated high costs for farmers and their investors.

To read the full report on factory farming in Asia click here.