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Soil Association tries to cash-in on Scottish Farmed
Salmon contrived food scare
Filed 17 Jan 04
An account of the circumstances behind one of
the most shameful acts in the name of science can be found in Magnus
Linklater's article in the Times of Thursday 15th January
(1), and by Gordon Davidson in today's Scottish
Farmer in his article entitled " Rumbled: Latest food scare
hits the buffers".
In essence it is reported that, in collaboration
with other centres, the University of Albany, New York, USA was
working on a $2 million contract from the Pew Charitable Trust,
an environmental pressure group (2).
In a paper published on 9th January 2004 in the
journal Science (3) the authors denigrated
Scottish farmed salmon as being a health risk along with salmon
farmed in other Northern European countries. The authors failed
to mention that the levels of carcinogenic chemicals that they observed
were well below safety thresholds set by the European Commission,
the World Health Organisation and the US Food and Drug Administration.
As though this ill-founded attempt to damage the
Scottish farm salmon industry by an environmental pressure group
in the States was bad enough, it was doubly galling to listen to
Mark Ruskell MSP (Green Party) at the annual conference of the Soil
Association (|Edinburgh 9th January) trying to score points for
the "organic" movement at the expense of the important
but fragile industry of salmon farming in Scotland, which accounts
for some 7,000 jobs in remote rural areas.
Worse than that the Soil Association issued the
following press release on that same day trying to cash-in on bad
science just because it fitted their objectives - to decry the legitimate
efforts of others in the hope of adding further to their own promotional
Soil Association Press Release
Consumers urged to buy organic salmon
9 JANUARY 2004
Following research showing that concentrations
of contaminants (such as PCBs and dioxins) are higher in farmed
salmon than wild salmon, the Soil Association is urging people
to consider switching to organic salmon.
Organic farmed salmon - and some other types of fish - is available
in supermarkets and local organic outlets.
The Soil Association - the UK's leading certifier and promoter
of organic food - has developed high standards for organic farmed
fish. Organically farmed fish has a number of benefits:
· Organically farmed fish are fed with the by-products
(trimmings, etc) of fish caught for human consumption, not industrial
fishmeal. The permitted oil content (where the majority of PCBs
and dioxins are found) is less than that fed to intensively farmed
· The use of veterinary drugs which are heavily used in
conventional salmon farming, is strongly restricted. However,
if fish are at risk of illness they must be given an appropriate
treatment and failure to do so could result in the fish farm losing
its organic status.
· The majority of conventionally farmed salmon is fed
with canthaxanthin to dye the flesh pink. This is not allowed
under Soil Association standards.
· Organic fish farmers aim to produce healthy stock through
natural methods and careful siting of the farms. For example,
stocking densities are half the levels in conventional salmon
farming and organic fish farms are located in cleaner water with
high tidal flows.
All organic fish farms, as with all organic businesses, are inspected
at least once a year to ensure that standards are met.
Francis Blake, Standards Director of the Soil Association said,
"Chemical contaminants are found in the environment because
of pollution from industry and intensive agriculture. By buying
organic, including organic farmed fish, consumers are supporting
better systems of production that aim to cut out such sources
Consumers or companies with any queries can contact the Soil
Association on 0117 929 0661.
For media enquiries please contact the Simon Toseland, 0117 987
Press Office T: 0117 914 2448 ISDN:
0117 922 1680
Soil Association Campaigning for organic food and farming and
Bristol House, 40-56 Victoria Street, Bristol BS1 6BY T: 0117
929 0661 F:
0117 925 2504
It is worth noting that the American Scientists
did not test any Scottish wild salmon or Scottish organically farmed
salmon. As so often the case, the claims made by the "organic"
movement that their products are superior lack convincing evidence
to support them.
Mark Ruskell, although coming in last out of 6
candidates with 2.1% of the vote in the general election for the
Stirling constituency in 2001 (4), he became
a list (regional) MSP for the Green Party in the Scottish Parliament
in 2003 (5). Indeed he is currently the
Green Party spokesman on Environment and Rural Affairs. The Green
Party won no constituency seats at all.
However, a BSc (Hons) degree from Stirling University
in Environmental Science/Biology and an MSc in "Sustainable
Agriculture" from the University of Aberdeen (6),
is apparently insufficient to enable him to distinguish between
a good scientific paper and a bad one.
1. Linklater, Magnus (2004). Answer
this: who benefits from the salmon scare?
See FOOD Homepage, filed 16 Jan 04, www.land-care.org.uk Click
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2. Pew Charitable Trust
3. Hites R.A., Foran, J.A., Carpenter,
D.O. et al (2004). Global assessment of organic contaminants in
4. BBC News Vote 2001 General
5. Irvine James (2003). Scottish
Parliament election result
See Social/Economic/Political Homepage, filed 5 May 03, www.land-care.org.uk
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