SCIENCE STUDY FINDS FARMED SALMON WITH 10 FOLD INCREASE IN PCBS AND OTHER TOXINS OVER THEIR WILD COUNTERPARTS: In the first comprehensive study comparing the amounts of toxins, including PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls], dioxin, toxaphene and dieldrin found in salmon, scientists found farmed fish contained on average 10 times more of these toxins than their wild counterparts. The results of the study, "Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon" was published in the 9 January issue of Science (pp.226-229) (, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). There were three earlier studies showing similar results, including one by the Environmental Working Group (see Sublegals, 8:09/03; 8:05/01; 6:14/04), but these were criticized because of their small sample size. This study tested approximately 700 farmed and wild salmon - approximately 2 metric tons - collected from around the world. A copy of the Science study is on the web at:

9:01/01. AVOIDING FARMED SALMON - MOVE OVER DAVID LETTERMAN, HERE'S SOMEONE'S ELSE'S LIST OF 10 REASONS WHY; JIM HIGHTOWER ALSO WEIGHS IN: Bruce Sandison of the Scottish-based Salmon Farm Protest Group (SFPG) has developed his own list of 10; in this instance, reasons for avoiding aquacultured salmon. The list was developed by SFPG for its 20 December Christmas protest held in Edinburgh "to celebrate wild salmon and to protest about the danger factory farmed salmon poses to wild fish populations." Sandison said before buying salmon products in supermarkets, "consumers would be well-advised to ask staff if it is wild or farmed salmon, and what chemicals it contains. Better safe than sorry." Here are his 10 reasons to boycott farmed salmon:

  1. Sea lice -- factory salmon farms are often infested with parasites and spread sea lice to wild salmon and sea trout.
  2. Escapes -- a recent scientific paper published by the Royal Society concludes that mass escapes from farms can lead to extinctions in wild salmon.
  3. Wastes -- Salmon farms discharge untreated wastes directly into pristine marine waters thereby using the sea as an open sewer.
  4. Unsustainable -- far from saving wild fish, salmon farming is a drain on depleted marine resources and is inherently unsustainable.
  5. Listeria -- One in ten smoked salmon are contaminated with listeria which can cause meningitis, blood poisoning and still births in pregnant women.
  6. Unsanitary and filthy -- the US FDA [Food & Drug Administration] have refused over 200 cases of Irish, Scottish, Chilean and Norwegian salmon for being 'unsanitary' and 'filthy.'
  7. Fatty -- Farmed salmon contains more fat than wild salmon (up to ten times fattier in some cases)
  8. Chemicals -- Factory farmed salmon are dependent upon a cocktail of toxic chemicals to control diseases and parasites.
  9. Artificial colorings -- farmed salmon contain synthetic pink dyes such as Astaxanthin and Canthaxanthin.
  10. Contaminants -- farmed salmon can contain DDT, chlordane and dioxins and can be up to ten times more contaminated with PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls] than wild salmon.

For the additional details on the Salmon Farm Protest Group's "Ten Reasons" including web-links and further information:

Commentator Jim Hightower has weighed in too, with a 1 January piece, "When Salmon Go Wrong," critical of current farming practices. "Few things that we eat are as good or good for us as a nice piece of fresh, pink salmon pulled out of the cold, pristine waters of our northern oceans and rivers. Or at least, that's the image of this noble fish," said the former Texas Agriculture Commissioner. "For wild salmon, the image is true -- but 80 percent of the salmon sold in U.S. markets and restaurants today comes from fish farms. More and more, these are corporate owned, industrialized operations that jam tens of thousands of salmon together in ocean pens, much as the infamous hog, poultry, and beef factories do on land. The toxics dumped in these factory pens contaminate in the surrounding water, as does the enormous amount of fish waste -- a single pen produces more waste than a small city, and these outfits typically have 20 pens each. Then there's us. The factory salmon grow huge, but they have twice the saturated fat of wild salmon and less of the fatty acids that make salmon good for us. They also bring more toxic contaminants to our tables, and -- get this -- they have to be artificially colored! While wild salmon get naturally pink from their diet of shrimp and krill, the factories feed their salmon a fishmeal that produces fast weight gain, but leaves them gray or khaki in color. So petrochemicals are added to produce a made-to-order range of light pink to red coloring." To see a complete copy of Hightower's farmed salmon commentary, go to:

9:01/02. NATIONAL TOXICOLOGY PROGRAM REVIEW OF TOXICITY AND CARCINOGENECITY OF FISH FARM CHEMICAL MALACHITE GREEN: The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Public Health Service (PHS) National Toxicology Program will hold a meeting of its Board of Scientific Counselors' Technical Reports Review Subcommittee on 17-18 February in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. On the agenda for the meeting, and what is of interest for fisheries, will be the review of the National Toxicology Program technical report "Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Malachite Green Chloride and Leucomalachite Green" ( The chemical malachite green is a cheap dye routinely used as a fungicide and disinfectant on trout and salmon eggs and is widely used in fish farm operations. It is a known carcinogen and in recent months there have been numerous instances where traces of the chemical have been found in farmed salmon.

The NTP technical report "Toxicology and Carcinogenesis Studies of Malachite Green Chloride and Leucomalachite Green" (p.16) states: "The general public in the U.S. may become exposed to malachite green through the consumption of treated fish. Additional consumer exposure can occur via fish imported from Europe and Canada, where the use of malachite green has been documented. While fish sold in the United States have not been tested routinely for malachite green, random sampling from markets in the United Kingdom indicates the continued use of malachite green in the United Kingdom." The Salmon Farm Monitor has kept track of reports of malachite green in the fish; see: "Nutreco caught in malachite scandal" at:; "Malachite green contamination in Chilean salmon" at:; "Nutreco fined for illegal use of malachite green" at:; and "Contaminated Chilean salmon impounded in Europe" at:

A copy of the 3 December 2003 Federal Register (Vol. 68, No. 232, pp. 67696-67697) notice for the meeting is at: Comments on any of the Draft NTP Technical Reports are welcome. Persons registering to make comments are asked to provide a written copy of their statement to the Executive Secretary on or before 30 January 2004. The agenda and roster of the Subcommittee members will be available prior to the meeting on the NTP homepage at (see What's New?) and upon request to the NTP Executive Secretary, Dr. Barbara S. Shane, P.O. Box 12233, 111 T.W. Alexander Dr., MD A3-01, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, Tel: (919) 541-4253, e-mail: [email protected]. Following the meeting, summary minutes will be available on the NTP website and in hard copy upon request to the Executive Secretary.