Fox News, 1st December 2011

The Fisheries Expert Won't Eat: Farmed Salmon


Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany, published a major study in the journal Science on contamination in fish.


The problem: Nature didn't intend for salmon to be crammed into pens and fed soy, poultry litter, and hydrolyzed chicken feathers. As a result, farmed salmon is lower in vitamin D and higher in contaminants, including carcinogens, PCBs, brominated flame retardants, and pesticides such as dioxin and DDT. According to Carpenter, the most contaminated fish come from Northern Europe, which can be found on American menus. "You could eat one of these salmon dinners every 5 months without increasing your risk of cancer," says Carpenter, whose 2004 fish contamination study got broad media attention. "It's that bad." Preliminary science has also linked DDT to diabetes and obesity, but some nutritionists believe the benefits of omega-3s outweigh the risks. There is also concern about the high level of antibiotics and pesticides used to treat these fish. When you eat farmed salmon, you get dosed with the same drugs and chemicals.


The solution: Switch to wild-caught Alaska salmon. If the package says fresh Atlantic, it's farmed. There are no commercial fisheries left for wild Atlantic salmon.


Budget tip: Canned salmon, almost exclusively from wild catch, can be found for as little as $3 a can.


[Professor David O.  Carpenter.  Expertise: Human health effects of environmental contaminants, including metals and organic compounds.

David O. Carpenter serves as director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at UAlbany's School of Public Health. He previously served as director of the Wadsworth Laboratory of the New York State Department of Health.  Carpenter, who received his doctorate from Harvard Medical School, has 220 publications, 37 reviews and book chapters and 12 other publications to his credit.]






The US study that sparked the toxic salmon scare has been strongly defended by leading scientists following allegations from the fish farming industry that it was biased and flawed.

"It is based on sound science and the results are undeniable," said George Lucier, former director of the US Department of Health's national toxicological programme and author of more than 200 studies on toxic chemicals. He has been backed by at least three other independent US experts.

The study, by scientists from four US universities and published 10 days ago in the US journal Science, analysed the levels of cancer-causing PCBs, dioxins and pesticides in 700 salmon from around the world. It found that farmed salmon were much more contaminated than wild salmon.

Despite the criticisms that followed, the conclusion has not been seriously challenged. But the subsequent findings - that eating farmed Atlantic salmon "may pose health risks that detract from the beneficial effects of fish consumption" - has provoked bitter argument.

The counterattack has been led by the salmon farming industry, which was forewarned of the study last October. It has alleged the research was biased because it was funded by a trust founded on US oil money.

The role played by the $ 3.8 billion Pew Charitable Trust, which funds research into global pollution, was spelled out in the study, and highlighted by Science magazine, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world's largest general federation of scientists. Any suggestion that Pew interfered has been denied by all involved.

Nevertheless, the Scottish salmon farming industry maintains it has been the victim of a global conspiracy. "This was a deliberately engineered food scare orchestrated to attack the salmon farming industry in Scotland," said Brian Simpson, chief executive of Scottish Quality Salmon (SQS).

Science's editor-in-chief Donald Kennedy dismissed the allegations. He said that the authors were all respected members of academic institutions. "Pew funded the study but left the authors free to publish their results without review," he told the Sunday Herald, adding that Science's peer-review process"is among the most rigorous in the scientific community".

The levels of contamination reported by the study have been accepted by both the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Scottish Quality Salmon (SQS) in the UK.

"The levels of dioxins and PCBs found in this study are in line with those that have previously been found by the FSA," stated the FSA on January 8.

The salmon industry was first alerted to the Science study by a talk given to an aquaculture conference in Vancouver, Canada, on October 27 last year. Charles Santerre, of Purdue University in Indiana, said: "Expect this bombshell to be spun in an unfavourable manner, so I think the industry needs to be prepared for it."

Although Santerre was widely quoted as a leading critic of the Science study last week, it was not always made clear that he is a paid consultant of industry group, Salmon of the Americas.  (Cited by Miller 2008 and Retrieved from Rob Edwards on 20120925.)


See also the Original Papers :


Hites, R.A. et al. Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon. Science 303, 226-229 (2004)


Foran JA, Carpenter DO, Hamilton MC, Knuth BA, Schwager SJ. Risk-based consumption advice for farmed Atlantic and wild Pacific salmon contaminated with dioxins and dioxin-like compounds. Environ Health Perspect. 2005;113:552–556


Sunday Herald, 18th January 2004