Salmon Good, Bad, Ugly
I love wild salmon. I always have. It’s not only delicious. It’s full of the best quality natural Omega 3 oils in an ideal ratio of 6 to 9 parts of Omega 3 to 1 part of Omega 6. Since 95% of our cell membranes contain fat, without adequate Omega 3 fats cells can not function properly. But this is only the icing to the wild salmon story. The most delicious part of it is that there no other fish in the world to match it. Except perhaps the finest Russian Beluga Caviar, which is also irresistibly delicious and good for you. So much for the good news. Now for the bad news. Then you will be able to care for your body, and protect yourself and family from long-term damage by eating the wrong kind of salmon—the kind that breed in fish farms.
TRUTHS OF AQUACULTURE
You might not know so listen carefully. Half of the world’s seafood now comes not come from wild oceans and rivers. They are bred and raised in fish farms. The numbers of fish farms are destined to rise exponentially in the next few years. So what? So lots of things! Fish farming corporations hide the inconvenient truths about how their fish are raised, what they are fed, and the dangers aquaculture brings not only the wild fish who share the same seas as their contaminated brothers but to humans who eat farmed fish. Let’s start here: Farmed salmon and all other farmed fish can spread the diseases they carry to the populations of fish that are still wild. Many farmed fish break through barriers erected to contain them and then threaten the wild fish gene pool by spreading bio-pollution that is irreversible.
Norway has the greatest concentration of fish farms in the world. The Norwegian Health Department recently issued a warning to their population that they should not eat too much farmed salmon. Dr. Anne-Lise Birch Monsen from the University of Bergen is outspoken about the high level of contaminants present in farm-raised fish including salmon. Contaminants that build up in farmed fish then spread environmental pollution into the waters surrounding the fish farms causing damage to wild fish in the waters nearby. Six years ago Russia banned Norwegian farmed salmon from sale because it contains large amounts of cadmium and lead. These heavy metals and other poisonous substances come from the feed farmed fish are given. They flood into the sea contaminating the waters where wild fish live. Wild caught Alaskan salmon who swim about in the rivers and seas eat what Mother Nature has provided them for them over many thousands of years: healthy fats, micronutrients, vitamins and antioxidants including natural astaxanthin. It is this astaxanthin that turns a wild salmon’s flesh its beautiful red color.
What fish farms feed their fish including farmed salmon, is an artificial mix of materials no fish was ever meant to eat. These include corn, soy, and grains most of which are GMO grown, together with feather meal from chickens, artificial colors, and chemicals. In the case of farmed salmon, these fish get filled full of synthetic astaxanthin that no government has ever approved for human consumption. The feed given to farmed fish is a dull gray color. This potentially harmful variety of astaxanthin is used to make salmon flesh look more of a pink color so humans who eat farmed salmon will be fooled into believing they are eating real wild fish.
An astounding ninety-nine percent of farmed salmon are penned and held within rivers that wild salmon swim up from the open ocean to lay their eggs and spawn at the end of their lives. Excess fish farm feed floats into the water surrounding the farm. As well as genetically engineered ingredients farm feeds contain, antibiotics and chemical additives, pesticides, and feces from the farmed fish that can massively contaminate wild salmon and other fish in the waters surrounding farms. Farmed fish are notorious for carrying diseases and spreading them. An aquaculturist will tell you none of this. When I contacted a few well-known fish farms asking them to provide me with a list of ingredients in their fish foods. All of them refused. One kind man who remains nameless at his request dared to whisper the truth to me. “It has to be kept hush, hush. If the public knew what they were eating, they would stop buying farmed fish altogether—including farmed salmon.”
Wild salmon are the vegetarians of the sea. They eat only plankton, krill, and algae. Near the end of their life they are ready to make their perilous way upstream returning to the place of their birth spawn and die, they will have spent all but this final five percent of their life in the freedom of the open ocean. For years, ecologists have been warning us to stay away from farmed salmon and the carnivorous “fish meal” with all the junk materials that go into it, including oil of anchovies which carries polychlorinated biphenyls known as PCBs. These and other toxic chemicals not only pollute farmed fish. They pollute our bodies when we eat farmed fish. Viruses, parasites, and banned chemicals, antibiotics, and parasites carry dangerous consequences for ourselves and those of our marine species who still inhabit the oceans.
The FDA is notorious when it comes under pressure from the corporate powers-that-be pressuring it to approve for human consumption drugs, foods, and many other products. Whether from ignorance or stupidity, in November of 2016, they outdid themselves. They have now approved the first genetically modified animal. It is a bizarre, genetically grown, artificial giant salmon. The FDA announced that such a fish is safe to eat. They cleared this phony GMO fish for sale in US supermarkets for family dinners. It was some fifteen years earlier that a small company called AquaBounty went to the FDA assuring them that this fish would not only be safe to eat but equally safe for the environment.
OUTRAGE IS COMING
The FDA announcement is passionately opposed by savvy consumer groups who claim that responsible safety studies have not been carried out and that these genetically engineered fish can cause harm to wild salmon and other wild fish if they escaped into the oceans and rivers.
As Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water made clear,
“This unfortunate, historic decision disregards the vast majority of consumers, many independent scientists, numerous members of Congress and salmon growers around the world, who have voiced strong opposition.”
Of course, the FDA claim that it has “rigorously evaluated extensive data submitted by the manufacturer, AquaBounty Technologies, and other peer-reviewed data…” and determined that this genetically engineered giant fish “is safe to eat by humans and animals.”
FUTURE OF GENETICS
This fish, presently called AquAdvantage, is a man-bred salmon. It is part Chinook salmon from which its hormone-regulating gene has been extracted along with a gene from the ocean pout, as well as genes and growth promoters from other fish so that this fish will grow at twice the rate of other farm-raised fish. The size of this fish is amazing compared with today’s wild salmon. It will be 24 inches long and weigh 6.6 pounds instead of the much smaller farmed salmon which are about 13 inches long and 2.8 pounds in weight. It is likely to be two years before this artificial fish is supposed to appear in supermarkets in the United States and elsewhere. Personally, I wouldn’t touch such a Franken-fish with a 10-foot pole. I care too much about human health, the health of our seas and the well-being of natural marine creatures that can still swim free. Long may their freedom reign.