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食品安全:用信息链截停受污染的海鲜

更新时间:2019/5/17 21:50:25 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

How to make sure the fish we eat is safe
食品安全:用信息链截停受污染的海鲜

It has become a new, horrible norm. Our marine life is today being choked by a gathering minefield of plastic in our oceans, and the images make for stark viewing. A rainbow runner fish with a disturbing kaleidoscope of plastic bits in its liver. A mahi mahi fish with plastic bottle caps in its stomach. Or the mussels and clams, the filters of the sea, that harbour hidden microplastics, invisible to our naked eye.

这已成为可怕的新常态。今天,海洋中聚集的塑料垃圾令海洋生物窒息。一条双带鲹鱼的肝脏里全是五颜六色的塑料碎片,令人揪心。一条鲯鳅鱼的胃里有塑料瓶盖。或者贻贝和蛤蜊这些“海洋过滤器”生物,身体里都是我们肉眼看不到的塑料微粒。

Our first reaction to this news is often disgust. But this reflex quickly gives way to a more sobering thought: the far-reaching impact of the  eight million metric tons of plastic pollution that enter our ocean every year. Not just proof of our mounting ecological misdeeds, this catastrophe also directly threatens to poison us where we are truly vulnerable: our plates.

我们的第一反应,往往是愤慨。这种本能反应后,是更重要的问题:每年进入海洋的800万吨塑料污染物造成了怎样的严重影响?这场灾难,不仅证实了我们日益严重的破坏生态的行为,还可能直接危及人类真正脆弱之处:食品安全。 

The prospects of such a future impact how we shop for food. Last year, a European shopper survey conducted by the research firm McKinsey & Company, reconfirmed a long-known trend: quality food continues to be more important than price. In other words, shoppers deeply care about consuming safe food, and willingly demonstrate it with their wallets.

这样的可能性,影响着我们购买食物的方式。去年,研究公司麦肯锡(McKinsey & Company)对欧洲购物者的调查再次证实了早已为人所知的趋势:食物品质比价格重要。换句话说,消费者更需要安全食品,愿意为此慷慨解囊。

The problem is that our modern industrial food network detaches us from any knowledge of our food’s origin. In a strange twist of fate, we have become unfathomably clueless in a world oversaturated by information.

问题是,现代工业化的食品网络使食品来源不再为我们所知。很荒唐,在一个信息过度饱和的世界里,我们居然会对此一无所知,着实不可理喻。

That is all about to change. New technology is now bridging this information gap and returning the power of knowledge to consumers. By cataloguing the long trail of supply chain data on encrypted ledgers, the nebulous world of the global food network will be exposed. Shoppers will soon be able to follow the “story of the fish” – a report card enclosing the product’s original photo, place of catch, initial weight, species type, vessel and crew details, RFID tag number, catch water details and more.

改变即将发生。有新技术正在解决这个问题,将知情权还给消费者。通过对加密收支账簿上的长串供应链数据进行编目,云山雾罩的全球食品网络将要拨云见日。购物者很快就可以了解“海鲜的来龙去脉”——一张信息卡,上面包含产品的原始照片、捕捞地点、初始重量、生物种类、船只和船员详细信息,RFID电子标签号码、捕获水域的详情等等。

Food sold in this system will be more detailed that most online products we buy, and downright encyclopedic compared to online dating profiles.

在这个系统中出售的食品,将比我们从网上购买的产品附有更详尽的信息,而且可与约会网站的档案媲美,详尽程度堪称百科全书。

The first fish products to be transparently produced and traced – from ocean to point of sale – through these blockchain-enabled ledgers will hit supermarkets in New Zealand and the EU some time this year, says Alfred Cook, a programme manager for the World Wildlife Foundation, who works in the project. The breakthrough comes after a pilot that started in June 2017, supported by the WWF, which hopes that enforced transparency in the supply chain will also prevent fish caught through slave labour from ending up unknowingly in our groceries.

参与该项目的世界自然基金会(World Wildlife Foundation)的西中太平洋金枪鱼项目(Western and Central Pacific Tuna)经理库克(Alfred Cook)表示,第一批附有区块链驱动信息的可溯源鱼类产品(从产地到销售点)将在年内进入新西兰和欧盟的超市。这个突破性进展始于世界自然基金会在2017年6月发起的一个试点项目,希望以此加强供应链的透明度;同时防止在大家不知情的情况下,有奴工捕捞的鱼进入食品店。

To ensure no one is buying plastic-laden fish, geolocation information will show the catch was far from populated coastlines, and inspection certifications can be uploaded to demonstrate that the product passed quality checks.

为了确保鱼体内不含过量的塑料,该信息将标明捕捞地点远离人口密集的海岸线,还可以上传检验证书,证明产品经过了质检。

Since the days of Bitcoin’s 2017/18 boom and bust, blockchain technology, the foundation behind cryptocurrencies, has attracted exhausting levels of hype. Today there are countless startups across the globe scouring for ways to apply the arcane ways of decentralised, encrypted ledgers to disrupt businesses large and small. Most are gimmicks.

自从2017至2018年比特币由盛转衰,作为加密货币基础的区块链技术引来狂轰滥炸般的炒作。今天,全球有数不清的初创企业正在寻找方法,运用分散、加密账本这种晦涩难懂的方法来干预或大或小的买卖。但大多都是噱头。

This one, however, feels different. Uniting the siloes of modern food supply chains is one of the best examples of a real-world problem that only blockchain can solve, and which promises to have an impact on the average shopper sooner than later.

然而,此次感觉有所不同。整合现代食品供应链的各个环节,只有区块链技术才能完美解决,很快就会对普通消费者产生影响。

“The traditional supply chain is based on relationships and a complete lack of information from one actor to the next,” says Brett Haywood, the New Zealand managing director of Sea Quest Fiji, the tuna-fishing and processing company involved in the pioneering programme.

“传统的供应链是建立在关系基础之上,完全缺乏不同环节的信息,”金枪鱼捕捞和加工公司Sea Quest Fij的总经理、新西兰人海伍德(Brett Haywood)说。该公司参与了这一开创性项目。

“We know what we sell our fish for but we do not know what the next actor gets as a margin. On one hand it is not our business to know what the fish is sold for down the supply chain but on the other hand, we are subject to the inefficiencies of the actors down that chain,” he explains.

“我们知道鱼的买家和售价,但下一个环节的利润就不清楚了。一方面,鱼在供应链的下游怎么卖并不关我们的事,但另一方面,我们也受制于供应链下游环节低效率的影响,”他解释说。

“While it has taken more time, the disruption that will be caused to traditional supply chains it is no less significant, as the primary producer can get closer to the end consumer,” Haywood says.

海伍德说:“虽然花费更多时间,但它对传统供应链造成的冲击将不会小,因为初级生产商得以接近终端消费者。”

The technological infrastructure for this project has been around for several years, and chances are you’ve already experienced it. Pioneering efforts were made in New Zealand and Australia in 2015 and 2016, and similar projects soon followed, including in Miami.

该项目的基础技术已存在多年,你很有可能已经体验过它。在2015年和2016年,新西兰和澳大利亚进行了开拓性的工作,随后迈阿密等地也迅速跟进,出现了类似的项目。

These programmes never provided great detail. Using automated identification technologies, such as radio frequency identification tags and 2D barcodes, food retailers provided instant data on product origin to consumers through smartphone applications. But until now comprehensive data of our food provenance has been lacking. Our modern supply chains have had too many isolated moving parts to assimilate.

这些项目从未提供太多细节。食品零售商使用自动识别技术,如射频识别标签和二维码条,通过智能手机上的应用程序向消费者提供产品原产地的即时数据。但到目前为止,我们的食物来源一直缺乏综合数据。现代供应链存在太多孤立环节需要整合。

“An enormous amount of time is spent reconciling information between organisations because everyone maintains their own copy of a database,” observes Tyler Mulvihill, co-founder of Viant, the Brooklyn-based company building the software on the public ethereum blockchain.

“在组织之间调配信息相当耗时间,因为每个环节都有各自的数据库,”Viant的联合创始人穆维希尔(Tyler Mulvihill)说道,这家位于布鲁克林的公司在公共以太坊区块链上开发软件。

Why is this technology even necessary?

为什么这项技术是必要的?

“End-to-end traceability is extremely difficult to do without blockchain because you have siloed data systems and if one of those chains break, the entire system breaks down,” answered Mulvihill. “To do traceability at scale is almost an impossible task,” he added.

“如果没有区块链,端到端的追溯就很难做到,因为数据系统互不相连,假如其中一个链条断裂,整个系统就崩了,”穆维希尔回答道。“实现大规模的追踪几乎是一项不可能的任务。”

Yet, conscientiously lifting the veil of a company’s inner workings will not come as a sensible decision to many CEOs. The modern business world does not incentivise greater transparency, and changing the old way of doing things may take considerable time. Just think of any vertically integrated company: airing your product’s more intimate details out in the open will reveal yourself to direct competitors. That is often not the wisest choice.

然而,在许多首席执行官看来,出于良心揭开公司内部运作的面纱并不是一个明智之举。现代商业世界并不鼓励提高透明度,改变旧的行事方式可能需要相当长的时间。随便以一家垂直整合的公司为例:公开展示产品的详尽细节会让直接竞争对手对你了如指掌。这往往不是最明智的做法。

“The problem is this information is controlled by what the supply chain actors wish to share and there has to be a revolution to change this,” asserts Haywood. “I believe that blockchain technology is the catalyst [to change], creating a relationship (at least knowledge-based) between consumer and primary producer.”

“问题是,这些信息的分享,受制于供应链参与者希望共享什么,必须通过一场革命来改变这种状况。”海伍德断言:“我认为,区块链技术是(变革的)催化剂,它在消费者和初级生产商之间建立了一种关系(至少是建立在知情基础上的关系)。”

Marketing campaigns will pressure change, of course, as shoppers begin to naturally expect more transparency with their food. Yet, while the future will impose greater numbers of companies to connect to publically available ledgers, it must be said that this technology is very much here to solve a rich “first-world problem”.

当然,市场营销活动将带来变革的压力,因为消费者开始自然期望更多了解他们的食物。然而,尽管未来将有更多的企业连接到公开可查的账簿,但必须指出,这项技术在很大程度上是为了解决富裕的“第一世界的问题”。

“The idea of knowing where your food comes from is a privilege of those who are more or less economically secure,” Robyn Metcalfe, director of the Food+City organisation at the University of Texas at Austin. “Many city dwellers are in need of food on a more basic basis and therefore have no basic interest in knowing where it comes from. If we’re only talking about those who are food secure, sure, there are technologies that they have the time and resources to enjoy.”

“知道食物的来源地,或多或少是经济上有安全感的人的一项特权,”德克萨斯大学奥斯汀分校(University of Texas at Austin)“食物+城市”(food+City)组织主任梅特卡夫(Robyn Metcalfe)说。“许多城市居民对食物的需要,是出于最基本的需求,因此对食物来源缺乏基本的了解兴趣。如果我们说的只是那些衣食无忧的人,当然,他们有时间、有资源享受技术。”

Applications offering food information will abound, she predicts, and they will continue to become more sophisticated by the day.

她预测,提供食品信息的应用程序将会大量涌现,而且会越来越复杂。

“Interacting with your food will become a thing,” Metcalfe continues. “This connection doesn’t necessarily mean that people will have more power; it may be that knowing more about your food will be a convenience and in some cases, a form of entertainment.”

“与你的食物互动将成为风潮,”梅特卡夫继续说道。“建立这种联系并不一定意味着人们将拥有更多权力;也许更多了解你的食物将成为一种便捷之举,在某些情况下,将会成为一种娱乐形式。”

In a world where the habitats of our seafood are becoming increasing under threat, such technologies could become a mandatory requisite for quality-sensitive shoppers. But an inundation of new information is no guarantee of an evolutionary shift, as many emerging technologies have often taught us, and such breakthroughs will always depend how well we are educated to use them.

在这个海鲜的栖息地面临越来越大威胁的世界里,这些技术可能会成为对品质敏感的消费者的必需品。但正如许多新兴技术经常教给我们的,铺天盖地的新信息并不能保证渐进的转变,这样的突破将永远取决于我们被教育如何来利用它们。

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