The increase in fish demand, due in part to population growth and rising income, is causing concern as to how the fishing industry will respond with more product in a timely manner. One possible solution to the fishing industry’s problem is genetically modified (GM) fish. Menozzi et al. (2012) discusses future trends of the fishing industry and potential risks that GM fish could bring. The authors have created a qualitative scenario analysis based on literature reviews and interviews with experts in the fishing industry. The data collected from the interviews allowed the authors to create three realistic scenarios of the impact of genetically modified fish in the fishing industry. The three scenarios are 1) no market for GM fish, 2) GM salmon reaches the dinner plate, and 3) GM salmon does not take off in the market. The authors have concluded that GM salmon will most likely be a part of the solution to the increase of fish demand, and it is just a matter of when.—Morgan Beltz
Menozzi, D., Mora, C., & Merigo, A., 2012. Genetically modified salmon for dinner? Transgenic salmon marketing scenarios. AgBioForum15, 276-293.
Menozzi et al. created a three step process for analyzing the fishing industry before they reached the three most likely scenarios of the impact of GM fish. First they created an accurate description of the current situation of the fishing industry by collecting information from literature reviews and researching online through the FAO to understand the decline in fish population and the increase in demand. The second step was to identify trends and driving forces in the market that are the most likely to be affected by the introduction GM fish. These were identified as public acceptance, regulatory framework, productivity increase, and the market structure in general.
The final step towards the authors’ conclusions was to conduct interviews with experts in the industry from all over the world. Fourteen experts in different positions in the fish industry were given a questionnaire to identify key variables that will impact trends for the next generation. The questionnaire also asked questions pertaining to GM fish in the market and the acceptance the experts thought the fish would receive. Theses answers were cross-referenced to the trends the authors previously identified in order to find links to the forces driving the industry. After all the data were evaluated, the author identified the three most plausible scenarios to GM fish in the industry, 1) no market for GM fish, 2) GM salmon reaches the dinner plate, and 3) GM salmon does not take off in the market.
The increasing demand for fish was the most important main trend affecting the industry, and the increasing sea temperature was unimportant. The experts interviewed generally agreed that the trends identified by the author were considered of equal but lower importance. The experts also identified environmentally friendly brands, fish health management techniques, waste treatment innovations, and breeding program improvements as the most important innovations to the fishing industry; GM salmon commercialization was considered as the least important.
The experts disagreed on when the introduction of GM fish to the industry would occur and what the acceptance would be, however the general consensus was that GM fish still has a long way to go before it would be introduced to the market, if it ever gets there. The experts also felt that the public will have a hard time accepting GM fish, but consumer and producer acceptance is likely to be higher in emerging and developing economies. The experts did agree that GM fish will bring new regulations to the market, ta market price decline, and an unequal distribution of profits. All of the uncertainty among the experts led the authors to the three scenarios.
In the first scenario there is no market at all for GM fish, due to strong resistance from consumers, retailers, and producers. This scenario would force the industry to increase production without the of GM fish, leading to new developments to minimize environmental impacts and costs, and to improve fish health management, waste treatment, and breeding technology.
The second scenario has GM fish making it to the dinner table in the near future and being completely accepted in the market. In this scenario the authors see market segmentation occurring by geographical location with the producing countries primarily serving nearby countries, but with a reduction in the market price. Although production would increase, the authors do not believe that the profits would be equally distributed because complying with the new regulations and technologies will be much easier for larger-scale farmers than for those small-scale ones.
In the last scenario GM fish do not take off. They are produced and brought to the market, but face resistance from producers, consumers, and even retailers, and purchased mostly by low-income consumers.
In any event GM fish in the market it will increase regulatory oversight and force the aquaculture industry to innovate breeding programs, technical improvements in pens and cages, and waste treatment techniques. Overall this should reduce the market price for all consumers in the long run.
After the creation of these three scenarios the authors went back to the experts to see which one they believe is most likely to occur. The experts’ responses thought the third scenario was slightly more likely, but not by much.