This has not been a particularly good few days for fish. Or for the citizens of our planet, for that matter.
Last week, the Senate gave into pressure from the biotech industry and voted that further environmental testing on the safety of genetically-engineered salmon is not necessary.
(In case you are new to this whole GE-salmon issue, here is an excellent video about it.)
Our government seems incredibly intent on making sure that this horrible technology gets into the environment and ruins the ocean’s ecosystem forever. It even went so far as to give the company that owns this technology, AquaBounty, a $500,000 grant last fall as it teetered on the brink of bankruptcy.
This vote by the Senate seems to indicate that genetically-engineered salmon, or “FrankenFish”, will be coming to a supermarket or restaurant near you. Horrifying thought, isn’t it?
The other piece of news that just got released was that bluefin tuna, caught near San Diego in August 2011, were found to have low levels of nuclear radiation – small amounts of cesium-137 and cesium-134.
Apparently, cesium-137 had already been present in the eastern Pacific before the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in the spring of 2011.
However, cesium-134, which is produced only by human activities through nuclear power plants and weapons, was not present before the earthquake and tsunami hit the Japanese plant. Therefore, scientists from Stony Brook University on Long Island and Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Lab concluded that the cesium-134 had to have come from Fukushima.
How safe is this fish to eat?
Daniel Madigan of Stanford University has said that “I wouldn’t tell anyone what’s safe to eat or what’s not safe to eat. It’s become clear that some people feel that any amount of radioactivity, in their minds, is bad and they’d like to avoid it. But compared to what’s there naturally … and what’s established as safety limits, it’s not a large amount at all.”
Will eating one piece of bluefin tuna cause serious damage?
Who can say with any degree of certainty?
Yet, one must also consider the aggregate amount of toxins or non-naturally occurring radioactive material that accumulates in a person’s body and the damage that it causes. It’s not just a one-time thing, or a one-time food, that we need to be paying attention to. It’s the aggregate amount as well.
To knowingly ingest non-naturally occurring radioactive material is something that I’ll take a pass on.
Furthermore, the amount of mercury in bluefin tuna (which is caused by coal plants) is another story – and the primary reason that I don’t eat fish.
In terms of USDA certified organic fish, there is no such thing just yet because our regulatory body, the National Organic Standards Board, is still discussing standards here.
Canada, which recently released its own set of standards for organic fish, has irritated a lot of folks in the organic sector up north by allowing the use of pesticides.
Two final things about this fish issue.
1) It all comes down to personal choice.
There are so many toxins in our food and environment that it is impossible to escape them all, so we have to make personal choices about how we live and what we eat, understanding the consequences for these decisions.
Even though I eat close to 100% organic, I willingly live in New York City where the air quality is not the best and am ingesting toxins from the air each day.
We know that fish have real amounts of mercury, and some fish from the Pacific Ocean have non-naturally occurring radioactive materials in them.
So, this just gives us more information for the dietary and lifestyle choices that we make.
2) For fish eaters, I strongly suggest you that you check out Food & Water Watch’s Smart Seafood Guide and “Dirty Dozen of Fish”.
To see both, click HERE.
I’ll be sure to keep you posted if I hear any other news about the approval of GE-salmon.