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Not So Many Fish in the Sea
“For centuries, our seas and oceans have been considered a limitless bounty of food. However, increasing fishing efforts over the last 50 years as well as unsustainable fishing practices are pushing many fish stocks to the point of collapse.” – World Wildlife Fund 

Plant-based burgers have been getting a big share of the spotlight recently, with incredible next-gen options from Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Hungry Planet, Good Seed, and more. A comprehensive overview can be found inside of my refrigerator (no URL available for that one, sorry). 
 
With our current system of food production – particularly, factory farming – at its breaking points, these improved options are desperately needed. 
 
Now, the same spirit of innovation that has driven research and development for plant-based burgers is venturing into a new ecosystem: our world’s oceans. 
 
In collaboration with Berkeley’s Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology, The Good Food Institute has launched a groundbreaking competition where students from diverse backgrounds in nutrition, biotechnology, material sciences, and more will do for plant-based seafood what Impossible Foods did for the veggie burger. 

               Senior Scientist Christie Lagally educated students on the challenges and opportunities for plant-based fish production 

This “Innovation Collider,” which is the first competition of its kind anywhere in the world, challenges students to take a deep dive into the biochemistry, texture, and aromatic compounds of different fish species to develop R&D plans for urgently needed plant-based alternatives. 
 
At the Collider’s kick-off event, GFI senior scientist Christie Lagally explained why this need is so dire, as the majority of our world’s fish stocks teeter on the verge of collapse from overfishing and unchecked consumption. I even learned some new stats: for instance, that a shocking 26 pounds of other sea animals are killed as bycatch for every single pound of shrimp harvested. 
 
The problem of overfishing isn’t just bad news for fish. The shrimping industry is notorious for its use of slavery. Additionally, healthy oceans are critical for oxygen production. In the words of Renee Loux, co-CEO of plant-based seafood company SeaCo, which is sponsoring the Collider, “If you care about breathing, you should care about the ocean.” 
 
It’s past time to find a sustainable solution to save our oceans (and therefore, our planet). 
 
Impossible Foods took its burger to the next level with the discovery of plant-based heme. This sort of breakthrough for plant-based fish is yet to be seen—and if these students can find a solution, they’ll be tapping into a hugely profitable industry that pays dividends in ocean conservation. 
 
To learn more about The Good Food Institute’s work supporting R&D efforts for food-system improvement, read up on what we do!

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