A new report exposes the massive use of antibiotics that fuels the U.S. market for salmon.
Prompted by Oceana, Chile has revealed that its fish farms use hundreds of times more antibiotics than Norway, the world's leading producer of farmed salmon, according to a report in the New York Times. Chile provides most of the farmed salmon available on the U.S. market, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, which had already labeled farmed Atlantic salmon as an "eco-worst" choice at the fish market.
Movies like Food, Inc. and books like the Omnivore's Dilemma have in recent years opened our eyes to the problems with industrialized agriculture on land. Unfortunately, some of the same problems -- cramped crowded conditions where disease can easily fester, overuse of antibiotics and an unnatural and unhealthy diet -- are also common on some fish farms.
Salmon, particularly, has been a concern among environmentalists and some health advocates for a long time. While salmon is a healthy fish, many wild populations of salmon are endangered. Farm-raised salmon can be highly contaminated with PCBs because the small fish caught to feed the fish can be contaminated. The pens in open water can introduce diseases and waste into the wild, endangering any remaining native wild populations of salmon, and the use of antibiotics can lead to drug-resistant strains. Farmed salmon can also escape to compete with wild fish, thereby weakening the native gene pool.
Atlantic salmon are not native to Chile (a northern species, they range from the Arctic Circle to Connecticut in North America and in comparable latitudes elsewhere). That may be one reason they face so many disease threats, and why farmers use such high doses of antibiotics.
Environmental Defense Fund recommends that no one eat more than one meal per month of farmed Atlantic salmon (and that kids under age 6 eat no more than a half meal per month) because of PCB contamination.
Not all farmed fish are bad, and not all are good. (Barramundi, for instance, are an Environmental Defense Fund eco-best choice; you can find sexy barramundi recipes at www.thedailygreen.com/barramundi-recipes .)
For salmon (and salmon alternative) recipes, including wild salmon with ginger and green onions, honey-lime wild salmon and horseradish-crusted wild Pacific salmon, go to www.thedailygreen.com/wild-salmon-recipes/.
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