Wednesday, December 11, 2013

SEAT participation at Food & Agricultural Ethics Conference (APSAFE 2013)

The 1st International Conference of the Asia Pacific Society for Food and Agricultural Ethics (APSAFE) was conducted during 28-30 November 2013 at Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Two SEAT project partners, namely WP8 Coordinator University of Bergen, Norway and Partner 9 Kasetsart University (Faculty of Fisheries) were involved in organizing this conference. They worked together with the main organizing institutes at Chulalongkorn University, namely the Center for Ethics of Science and Technology (CEST) of the Faculty of Arts, and the Office of the Commission on Agricultural Resource and Education (OCARE). 

Prof Matthias Kaiser from U of Bergen was one of the key note speakers, presenting a paper on "Food Ethics Between Food Safety and Food Security - Challenges and Methods". In his presentation, he mentioned the ethical framework followed by SEAT Project which studied the ethical aspects of aquaculture trade. He also chaired the session on Food Security and Policy. 

Dr Scott Bremer, also from U of Bergen, presented a paper on "Exploring the Social and Ethical Issues of Genetically Modified Animals in India", which he co-wrote with M. Kaiser, N. Wright, K. Millar and G.J. Pakki Reddy. 

Kasetsart University SEAT Project PI Dr Kriengkrai Satapornvanit was one of the organizers, serving under the scientific program committee.

Both Prof Kaiser and Dr Satapornvanit are founding members of the Asia Pacific Society for Food and Agricultural Ethics (APSAFE). Their working partnership was a result of working together under the SEAT Project wherein ethical issues in aquaculture production and trade were studied.

More info on APSAFE

Thursday, July 25, 2013

SEAT meets Thai DoF on EAFI progress and policy issues

L to R: Dr. Reg Eayrs (CEFAS), Dr. Wendy Higman (CEFAS), Dr. Jason Weeks (CEFAS), Dr. Wimol Jantrarotai (Director General, DoF), Dr. Kriengkrai Satapornvanit (KU), Dr. Suttinee Limthammahisorn (DoF).

Dr. Jason Weeks, from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, UK (CEFAS), and Dr. Kriengkrai Satapornvanit, Faculty of FisheriesKasetsart University (FoF-KU), met with Dr. Wimol Jantrarotai, Director General of the Royal Thai Department of Fisheries (DoF) on 25 July 2013 in Bangkok. CEFAS is a SEAT partner coordinating the policy work package and the EAFI process, while FoF-KU is the SEAT Project implementing partner in Thailand.

The main objectives of the meeting were to present the progress on the Ethical Aquaculture Food Index (EAFI) work as well as to give a briefing on policies pertinent to Thailand which came out of SEAT project research. 

The meeting was also attended by Dr. Reg Eayrs and Dr. Wendy Higman (both from CEFAS), Ms. Chamapan Rangaratna (Trade and Investment Manager, British Embassy, Bangkok), and DoF officials, namely, Dr. Suttinee Limthammahisorn (Sr. Fisheries Biologist), Mr. Pairat Kosutarak (Director, Inland Feed Research Institute), Ms. Varatip Somboonyarithi (Director, Fishery Technological Development Division), Ms. Ubolratana Suntornratana (Director, Aquaculture Development and Certification Centre) and Mr. Kriengkrai Jirapitigul (Fishery Biologist, Fish Trade Inspection Office).

The EAFI progress presentation is part of the consultative/ participatory process for the formulation of this index, whereby opinions from various stakeholders are taken into consideration. According to Dr. Weeks, a range of aquaculture standards setters/ certifiers have been consulted and were positive about the EAFI potential and the (risk) framework approach. For buyers, their main comment was to keep it as simple as possible. In addition, all those who have been consulted have liked the inclusion of ethics and the whole value chain approach into the EAFI process. The EAFI is an independent iterative process that is evidence-based and focused on ethics and sustainability, and should be easy to use by any one concerned. It is not an accreditation scheme but a first consideration in making a decision about buying a product.

SEAT is now in the process of encouraging feedback on how the EAFI can be adopted. The development of the EAFI is moving toward worked case studies, weighting, and refined presentation of a robust database from the SEAT field research.

Regarding policy headlines relevant to Thailand, the following were presented:
  • Thailand’s positive governance of aquaculture industry
  • Good communication and overall drive towards relevant certification could be expanded within aquaculture more rapidly
  • Improvements in disease surveillance, epidemiological determinations and control could be enhanced
  • Food safety policy headers and recommendations
  • Reduction of fish meal in feeds requires change in industry mind set and farmer perceptions, and could result in an overall positive impact vis-à-vis criticism of Thai aquaculture, pressure on wild stocks and expansion of seafood farming in Thailand
  • Aquaculture product welfare is an increasing component of third party certification standards, in Europe legislated by EFSA (UK, Farm Animal Welfare Committee). Perception of good welfare is important to maintaining Thai leadership in aquaculture exports.

DoF showed interest in the EAFI process as well as on the questions and model used to analyse the data. There was a concern expressed by Dr. Jantrarotai regarding the EAFI becoming a benchmark for seafoods imported into the EU in the future. It was emphasized by Dr. Weeks that the EAFI is a tool for buyers rather than for exporters, to help them (buyers) make a decision to know if a product is good and safe. 

Dr. Jantrarotai commented that Thailand will do more and try to follow the policy recommendations. There are many good and positive things that Thailand has done and is doing regarding improving the aquaculture industry and these need to be communicated outside Thailand, especially to buyers and consumers of Thai seafood products. He appreciated the fact that the fish welfare issue has been included, and acknowledged that more attention will be given to this issue in the future.