UK salmon farmers hit back at toxin allegations
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UK: January 5, 2001
EDINBURGH - Scotland's salmon farmers hit back on Thursday at
allegations that farmed fish could contain dangerous levels of toxins.
A BBC documentary to be broadcast on Sunday will say that the 'King of
Fish' grown in artificial cages can contain as much as 10 times the
levels of certain pollutants - polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and
dioxins - than are found in their wild counterparts.
PCBs are thought to attack the central nervous system, causing learning
difficulties and suppressing the body's natural immune system, says the
programme, a transcript of which has been obtained by Reuters.
"We are outraged that the BBC has sought to promote a health scare story
to promote one of its own programmes," said a spokeswoman for Scottish
Quality Salmon, which represents 70 percent of the UK industry.
Shares in Dutch food group Nutreco , the world's biggest salmon farmer,
fell 6.5 percent by 1400 GMT on fears the documentary would damage
public confidence in the fish.
The documentary, called 'Warnings from the Wild - the Price of Salmon' -
includes research from Michael Easton of Canada's Suzuki Foundation who
analysed four different types of fish feed alongside four different
farmed and wild salmon.
In an echo of Britain's mad cow disease, Easton said the feeding of high
protein meal made from fish caught far out at sea could be the reason
for the concentration of the toxins in the farmed salmon.
BRITAIN SAYS SALMON SAFE
Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA), set up in the wake of the mad cow
crisis, stuck to its guns and insisted one portion of farmed salmon per
week was fine for the average adult.
In a statement, the FSA said eating moderate amounts of oily fish,
including salmon, was part of a healthy, balanced diet and outweighed
any individual risk.
The FSA is at odds with the World Health Organisation which has lowered
its recommended weekly intake of dioxins and PCBs in light of new
findings, according to the documentary.
Salmon farming in Scotland has grown from virtually nothing over the
last 20 years into a 300-million-pound industry employing around 6,500
Around 95 percent of salmon on Britain's dinner plates comes from the
huge metal cages dotted around the mouths of sea lochs on the west
Salmon remains a hugely popular dish, especially during the festive
season, although public faith in the farmed variety has been knocked by
infestations of sea lice caused by having large numbers of fish packed
into cages, almost like battery chickens.
Story by Ed Cropley
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
Gary N. Greenberg, MD MPH Sysop / Moderator Occ-Env-Med-L MailList
gary.greenberg at duke.edu Duke Occupat, Environ, Int & Fam Medicine
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