World Bank: “We applaud Chile’s efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics”
Randall Brummett is the senior aquaculture analyst for the World Bank (WB), whose headquarters are located in Washington, United States, and which globally is investing around US$ 1,000 million for the cultivation of hydrobiological species, mainly in Asia.
In Chile, during the crisis of the Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAv), a disease that led to put at risk all the salmon farming activity in the country, Brummett actively participated in the search for solutions. The WB financed a finished study on the dispersion of ISAv in the cultivation centers, so the executive knows firsthand how local producers have acted in times of contingency.
What is your diagnosis of the Chilean salmon industry, the development it has had and its future in terms of sustainability?
Chile has been a leader in establishing new norms of behavior for aquaculture investors and managers. We applaud Chile’s efforts to reduce the use of antibiotics and otherwise reduce the ecological footprint of aquaculture. We would like to support Chile to extend these lessons to the rest of the world.
Do you think that sanitary measures such as those taken to deal with pathogens such as the ISA virus, SRS and sea lice have been correct?
The general rules for managing diseases are known. You have to spread out, ensure adherence to best practices and establish a working system for monitoring and enforcement of biosecurity rules. Chile has been working through the known problems and I think is generally doing a good job and putting the best available knowledge into play.
This year, the kings of Norway visited Chile and were faced with criticism about the expansion of salmon farming in Patagonia. Do you agree with these critics?
No. The salmon industry has been making great progress in Chile and Norway and is now among the most ecologically friendly food production systems on the planet. It seems strange to me that people who claim to care about the health of the oceans would have us eating the last wild fish instead of growing them more sustainably than they can be caught.
There are ecologists groups that have told consumers to not buy farmed salmon arguing that the use of antibiotics and sanitary issues could affect the environment and also human’s health. What’s your opinion about these comments?
In general, all of our food production systems could be improved, but the use of antibiotics in aquaculture is less than in any other animal food production system, and the use of pesticides and herbicides and the alteration of land for agriculture are much more destructive than anything that the aquaculture industry is doing.
What do you think about the commercialization of genetically modified salmon?
I think it’s the future. The genes in question are found in nature and almost all scientists agree that genetic modification is more of a solution than a problem.
What’s your opinion about the “commercial wars” that have been generated in the world and that have impacts on products such as salmon?
Bad ideas generated by bad politicians.
Do you think that large salmon farming projects on land, such as those being developed in the United States, are sustainable? Why?
It depends on the cost and source of electricity. If you had a lot of reliable solar or wind power, then you could do intensive land-based systems sustainably, but if you are building more dams or burning more coal to grow fish on land, I would think it better to continue to work on improving cage aquaculture, which can actually have a net positive impact on biodiversity if done well.