Now this is an interesting turn of events.
Dr. Craig Orr, who has made a career out of being a scientific gun-for-hire and media go-to guy for negative quotes about salmon farming, is complaining that the new Integrated Management of Aquaculture Plan advisory committee just isn’t fair.
Orr is quoted as saying he thinks environmental groups should have more than three seats at the table, otherwise they will just be “shouted down.”
“All we’re saying is, make it fair,” he said. “Have some (federal fisheries) scientists, have some academics, have some NGO scientists.”
But that’s exactly what the committee has, Dr. Orr. how is it not fair?
The current make-up of the advisory committee already has more environmental group representation than regional districts, yet they are not complaining about fairness. The committee has seven First Nations representations, and seven salmon farm company representatives, which makes perfect sense because it’s all about the Integrated Management of Aquaculture.
How is this not fair? Does Dr. Orr think the First Nations and salmon farm companies should give up some of their seats so environmental groups, who have no direct stake in managing aquaculture, should be given equal footing?
Besides, isn’t it environmental groups who have the tendency to “shout down” anyone who disagrees with them? How did BAMP turn out? How did CAAR’s partnership with Marine Harvest turn out? The ENGOs got mad, took their ball and went home when they found they couldn’t shout and bully the salmon farmers at the table to bend to their will.
These are projects in which Dr. Orr participated. Maybe he doesn’t like to participate in groups where he doesn’t have control over the Talking Stick all of the time.
Or perhaps Orr simply isn’t qualified to sit on the committee, since he’s published more papers about East Coast birds and rabbits than he has about aquaculture in B.C.
Either way, it doesn’t matter because despite his complaining, Orr says he isn’t going to participate.
But Orr said his organization has decided not to participate in the committee. He said he’s been involved in similar processes in the past where “things get blocked.”
“We don’t want to get into an arena where that advice is going to go into a black hole or just give us ulcers,” said Orr.
That’s right. It’s only OK to participate in committees where “things get blocked” for the salmon farmers, and where advice from salmon farmers goes into a “black hole” and where salmon farmers get ulcers.
This response shows that when some salmon farming opponents are denied their bully pulpit, they really aren’t interested in participating and collaborating to help make things better. They just want a platform to berate and condemn the things they hate.
That’s not science, and doesn’t belong at the IMAP advisory committee table.
It’s the media’s job to provide context, but when it comes to reporting on farmed salmon, they fail miserably.
The latest example comes from Eastern Canada. While Canadian media was busy vilifying farmed salmon for possibly containing viruses which affect nothing but farmed salmon, they ignored reports showing that terrestrially-farmed meats routinely contain bacteria – the kinds of bacteria which, if the meat is processed and handled incorrectly, can be harmful to human health.
According to the National Antimicrobial Retail Monitoring System report, nearly a decade of research done by the US FDA and the Centre for Veterinary Medicine, your chances are very good for purchasing chicken, turkey, pork or beef containing E. coli, salmonella, enterococcus or campylobacter. Or perhaps all of the above.
It’s pretty much a given that, unless you are a vegan, in the past decade you have eaten meat containing these bacteria.
Should you worry? Should you declare your home a meat-free zone and go vegan?
If you want, but as we’ve pointed out before, the worst case of food-related illness in North America was from cantaloupes, which tragically killed 30 people. And other vegetables have been at the centre of food-related illnesses and deaths too, notably spinach. Vegetables often contain the same bacteria as meat, but like meat, they are usually present in such low quantities that they pose no health risks.
So if you’re a vegan, chances are good you’ve eaten these bacteria too, with no ill effects.
This sort of context is important in any discussion about the food we eat, be it salmon, chicken or spinach. But in the rush to “get it first” and “get people talking” the context is unfortunately the first thing the media cuts out in their reporting.
And because there’s a lot of money tied up in “demarketing” farmed salmon to boost wild salmon, there’s a lot of baloney out there about the healthiness of farmed salmon. Context is sorely needed to balance the nonsense, but most media are too lazy to do even basic investigative work to balance the claims of anti-salmon farming loudmouths.
The science speaks for itself. We are not aware of contaminated farmed salmon causing any deaths (unlike contaminated cantaloupes and spinach). In fact, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization recently published a comprehensive report showing that the health benefits of consuming oily fish (including farmed salmon) greatly outweigh any risks.
And overall, meat, seafood and veggies are safe. We live in an age where our food supply is the safest it’s ever been. There is no need to be fearful in the grocery store.
So media, enough with the scaremongering farmed salmon stories already. It’s time to show some responsibility and investigative skills and put the context back in your reporting.