DuPont Nutrition & Health announces sustainable seaweed program

[USA] DuPont Nutrition & Health (DuPont N&H) and the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium have collaborated on a new seaweed program which encourages the industry to adopt more sustainable seaweed harvesting and cultivating practices.

Announced on World Oceans Day on 8 June, DuPont N&H said the program is specifically for the hydrocolloid industry. The company is one of the world’s largest buyers of seaweed, which it uses to extract hydrocolloids carrageenan and alginates that then go into food and pharmaceuticals. For example, carrageenan is often used as a thickener in foods such as ice-creams, yoghurts and cottage cheese.

“Seaweed is one of the principal raw materials in the hydrocolloid industry, and our goal is to see these sustainable management practices implemented worldwide,” said Erick Ask, Seaweed Development Manager at DuPont N&H. “Some would call this goal ambitious, but we want to help educate all seaweed farmers and harvesters to develop a working knowledge of sustainable practices and enhance their ability to be good stewards of their farms and seaweed beds, upon which they depend for their livelihoods and their family’s future.”

The seaweed management program has a set of Better Management Practices (BMPs) that include social and environmental criteria such as transparency in the seaweed supply chain, worker safety and the protection of coral reefs. The company said the program will be launched in its Norway location where it will look at its own performance first to see how to develop and improve seaweed sourcing practices globally.

Sustainability is at the heart of DuPont N&H, and Ask said that the sustainable seaweed management program is “just a continuation of our journey”.

The Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life has similar priorities — having previously helped create the Fisheries and Aquaculture Solutions Program which develops sustainable practices around seafood sourcing — and was therefore seen as an ideal partner for the program.

Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life Chief Scientist and Vice President John Mandelman said: “Improving the environmental performance of seaweed has cascading benefits for coastal communities and habitats as well as for species far beyond seaweed. In taking a science-based approach to both create and continually improve these guidelines, we hope to make a difference in sustainability across the entire seaweed extract market.”


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