FARMED FISH THE NEW FEED LOT BEEF
We all thought that farmed fish would be the answer to feeding a nation starved for more healthy foods didn’t we? Everyone has been saying to eat more healthy seafood and we listened-to the detriment of our oceans fish supply. The market response was to start farming fish in the 80’s which seemed like a great idea to take the pressure off of overfishing. Of course anytime Man gets involved with Nature things don’t always work out and fish farming is no exception. There are several reasons why the currently practiced farmed fish industry is missing the target. Several enormous issues have not been dealt with in a constructive manner including toxicity to the consumer and environmental destruction.
What are the toxins within the fish?
- Metals such as, but not limited to, copper, mercury and lead.
- Industrial chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls or PCBs, and dioxin.
- Pesticides such as DDT and dieldrin.
- Persistent organic pollutants otherwise known as POP’s include all industrial chemicals that persist undegraded in the ecosphere.
What are the concerns?
- Toxic pollutant accumulation in the consumer leading to cancers, neurodevelopmental diseases, and others. The key is to minimize exposure.
- There is now an association between farmed fish consumption and vCJD (mad cow in humans).
- Type 2 diabetes has been implicated in PCB ingestion.
- Destruction of native species of fish.
- 75% of the world’s oceans are overfished causing a 90% decline in predatory fish populations since the preindustrial fishing era. This calls for alternative sources like fish farming, but questionable practices may promote disease, heavy antibiotic use, and parasite infestations–causing more harm than help to wild fish populations.
The big surprise is how tainted many of our lakes and streams are in addition to the oceans. In fact, some fish are so toxic that the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has issued a warning for these fish listed below Note that they are not all saltwater fish:
- Bluefin tuna
- King mackerel
- American and European eel
- Croaker, white
Why are fish so toxic now? That’s a great question, I’m glad I asked it. Farmed fish are toxic because of the feed that’s given them-that is if they are meat eaters, or fish eaters. That feed has fish oil in it which is rich in concentrated pesticides and PCB’s. This dovetails nicely with my current recommendation that you avoid bathtub fish oil from Big Box stores for the same reason.
A study was published in 2000 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.
“The results were very, very clear,” Dr. Easton, a Vancouver-based geneticist and expert in ecotoxicology…
“Farmed fish and the feed that they were fed appeared to have a much higher level of [persistent organic pollutants, POP’s] 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,” … “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.” [Emphasis mine]
In addition, PCBs are dangerous because they act like hormones contributing to a variety of illnesses including cancer, infertility, and other sexual problems.
One bottle-nose dolphin had PCB levels of 2,000 parts per million (ppm)—40 times the amount required for hazardous waste disposal. Inuit natives, whose diets consist largely of fish, have been found with PCB levels of 15.7 ppm in their fat, far higher concentrations than the maximum amount considered to be safe in fish by the EPA (.094 ppm). Nearly all Inuit have PCB levels far above guideline levels that health officials consider safe, and some Inuit have ingested so much contamination from fish that their breast milk and body tissues would be classified as hazardous waste. In the United States in 2002, 38 states issued fish consumption advisories because of high PCB levels.
Dr. Susan L. Schantz of the University Of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine has been studying fish-eaters since 1992 and has found that people who ate 24 pounds or more of fish per year have problems with learning and memory. (On average, people around the world consume 40 pounds of fish per year.) She found that fish-eaters often have high levels of PCBs in their blood and thus have difficulty recalling information they learned just 30 minutes earlier. Says Schantz: “It had been assumed that mature adults are less susceptible [to PCBs] than are developing fetuses. This may not be the case.” Some fish-eaters in her study had high levels of lead, mercury, and DDE (formed when DDT breaks down) in their blood. Even low concentrations of lead can cause mental retardation and physical disability in children. Higher levels can lead to learning disabilities, behavioral problems, seizures, and even death. [Emphasis mine].
Finally, in August 2004, scientists from Indiana University warned that industrial-strength fire retardant is showing up in salmon flesh worldwide. [Emphasis mine].
The health consequences of exposure to all the toxins found in salmon can be grave—the Environmental Working Group estimates that 800,000 people in the U.S. face an excess lifetime cancer risk from eating farmed salmon.
STAY TUNED FOR THE CONTINUATION NEXT WEEK