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Farmed salmon has lower environmental cost than pork, beef or chicken

Staff Writer |
A detailed assessment of consumers’ most common protein choices shows salmon raised in the ocean have the lowest overall cost to the environment.

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A new study prepared for the BC Salmon Farmers Association by Ottawa based RIAS examines the evidence from life-cycle analyses in the literature on the environmental footprint of BC farm-raised salmon compared to production of other food proteins.

Through a life-cycle analysis (LCA), which the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) defines as “a tool for the systematic evaluation of the environmental aspects of a product or service system through all stages of its life cycle,” it is possible to compare different food systems based on several objective environmental measures.

The most common indicators in an ISO standardized method for measuring a “cradle-to-farm gate” approach across the animal or crop’s life are: energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, eutrophication potential, water use and land use.

Based on the valuation of greenhouse gases, land use, water use, and eutrophication, BC salmon farming has a lower total environmental cost than beef, chicken, or pork.

Farm-raised salmon is 24 per cent less costly to the environment than chicken, while beef has a cost that is 500 per cent greater than salmon raised in an ocean environment.

BC farm raised salmon ($0.59/kg) has the lowest overall environmental cost of any of the major protein options available to consumers today.

Farm-raised salmon is 24 per cent less costly to the environment than chicken ($0.73/kg) to almost 500 per cent less costly than beef ($3.45/kg).

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