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From February 20, 2002

Farmed Fish Higher in Pesticides Than Wild Fish

A recent study published in Chemosphere (46(7): 1053-1074, 2002) found that farmed salmon have higher levels of organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, and polybrominated diphenylethers (PBDEs) than wild salmon. The study, "Preliminary Examination of Contaminant Loadings in Farmed Salmon, Wild Salmon and Commercial Salmon," analyzed five commercial salmon feeds, four farmed salmon (one Atlantic, three Chinooks) and four wild salmon (one Chinook, one chum, two sockeyes) from the Pacific Coast. There were no differences found between wild and farmed salmon for concentrations of toxaphene and methyl mercury.

The study authors, Easton, M. et al., state that the farmed salmon levels are most likely a result of the high level of contaminants found in commercial salmon feed. These findings are a great concern, especially for those individuals who consume farmed salmon raised on contaminated feed on a regular weekly basis.

Another report released this month, Poisoned Waters, by the Washington Toxics Coalition and the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides as part of their Clean Water for Salmon Campaign, based on government water quality research, showed that numerous dangerous pesticides are present in Northwest rivers and streams at levels known to be harmful to salmon. (See Beyond Pesticides' Daily News story from February 12, 2002, "New Study Reveals Pesticides Threaten Northwest Salmon.")

The Washington Toxics Coalition, together with environmental and fishing groups, filed a lawsuit last year against the EPA to force the agency to take action to protect salmon from pesticides. Settlement negotiations in that suit broke down earlier this month, and the parties in the suit are moving forward with the lawsuit.