from Dian Hardy
New scientific studies raise concern over toxicity of farmed fish
VANCOUVER, CANADA - Startling new scientific evidence
from Canada and Britain suggests that potentially dangerous levels of
toxic chemicals are contained in the feed given to farmed salmon in
Canada and Scotland, the David Suzuki Foundation announced today.
The research shows that the contaminants, known as
persistent organic pollutants, are especially dangerous for children,
nursing mothers and pregnant women or women considering pregnancy. The
studies were conducted in Canada by Dr. Michael Easton for the David
Suzuki Foundation and in Britain by Dr. Miriam Jacobs in conjunction
with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"We are calling on the Canadian government to
immediately heed these findings and to fund the next stage of research
needed to determine the safety of farmed salmon and salmon feed for
people who consume this fish regularly," said Jim Fulton, executive
director of the David Suzuki Foundation.
"Our research, conducted by Dr. Easton, is a pilot study
that examined a small sample size. But the results demonstrate reason
for concern and the need for further study. We believe it is now the
responsibility of the federal government to fund research that can shed
more light on these findings,"
The research by Drs. Easton and Jacobs shows the farmed
fish sampled contained much higher levels of pollutants, including 10
times more Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), than wild fish. Their
studies were conducted independently of each other.
"The results were very, very clear," Dr. Easton, a
Vancouver-based geneticist and expert in ecotoxicology, told the British
Broadcasting Corporation in a television documentary to be aired this
Sunday (Jan. 7) in Britain.
"Farmed fish and the feed that they were fed appeared to
have a much higher level of contamination with respect to PCBs,
organochlorine pesticides and polybrominated diphenyl ethers than did
wild fish. In fact, it was extremely noticeable," he said.
"It is a function of how the feed is made, of their
concentrating of these different materials to produce high-protein diets
for the fish and ultimately the contaminants apparently get concentrated
as well," Dr. Easton said, adding that these pollutants affect the
nervous system, the immune system and can cause cancer.
"They're a neural toxin, which causes learning
disabilities (especially in children) but they are also an immuno
toxic," he told the BBC. "They cause depression of the immune system
that enables you to catch colds and flus and infections much more easily
than normal, and they also aid the production of cancer."
Dr. Jacobs, a toxicologist in the School of Biological
Sciences at the University of Surrey (U.K.), told the BBC: "I am
concerned about the dietary intake of small children and infants. Their
dietary intake will be far greater than for an adult based on body
weight. An ongoing study in Holland has been monitoring for background
levels of PCBs in very young children and up to school age, and it has
been found that there is a greater risk of infection and a greater risk
of impairment of cognitive development in those
children that have higher intakes of PCBs."
While the contaminant levels discovered by Drs. Easton
and Jacobs were below government-approved safety levels, both scientists
said they are concerned for people who regularly eat farmed salmon, and
also about how governments establish risk-assessment values for human
consumption of chemicals and pollutants.
The BBC program Warning from the wild: The price of
salmon especially raises questions about British Standards, which are
far weaker than those of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other
European countries which are following the newly established WHO
standards. A spokesman for Britain's Food Standards Agency says they
only recommend a person eat one portion of farmed salmon a week.
"Once again, we have so many questions raised by
scientists about this industry," Mr. Fulton said. "What we want from the
Canadian government is that they fund additional scientific
investigation. We are a small research agency and we cannot afford to
conduct the next stage of research which is estimated at approximately
Those funds could be found in the office of Canada's
Aquaculture Commissioner whose office has an annual budget of over $2
million, Mr. Fulton added.
"I presume that some of the work his office should be
doing is this type of scientific research so I look forward to speaking
to the Minister of Fisheries (Hon. Herb Dhaliwal) about the possibility
of continuing Dr. Easton's work," he said.
Go on to Horse Slaughter for Consumption Abroad
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