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since June 19, 2001


Fish-farming study reeks to high heaven

Government-funded scientists do their darndest to damage another industry


[NOTE [by Lorne Gunter]: The scientists who set out to damage the fish-farming industry are not government funded, they are foundation funded. I even say so in my column. I have no idea what the headline writer was thinking.]

Fish-farming study reeks to high heaven: Government-funded scientists do their darndest to damage another industry 

Sunday 18 January 2004, p. A12

Here we go again.

The recent "study" that alleged to show farmed salmon (as opposed to wild salmon) was so toxic it was unsafe to eat more than once every other month or so, is yet another example of the misuse of science in the name of some political cause or other.

We've seen it with global warming and second-hand smoke, with the efficacy of gun control and the hazards of private health care and with the alleged need for more family planning freedom to control human population. Again and again, political activists stake out a policy position, then attempt to justify it by backfilling scientific "evidence" that supports their desired policy end.

This work is frequently paid for by governments with agendas that need the veneer of scientific credibility.

Many scientists are only too happy to oblige. Not intentionally, of course. Politically, most scientists are liberal, to the extent they think politically. This means they have no fear of government, indeed they view it as mostly benign, a force for good in human affairs. So when a generous government comes calling with a problem that needs investigation, it is more than coincidence, but less than conspiracy, that many scientists come up with solutions that involve more tax revenue and power for government.

Call it a common mindset: One hand washes the other without recognizing the symbiosis of their relationship.

The Kyoto accords, smoking bans, gun licensing and public health care are all solutions that require governments to expand. They also permit politicians to appear concerned, engaged and progressive and special interest groups to meddle in other people's lives. Is it any wonder, then, that governments fund research that backs up the argument that what the world needs now is more government?

But the motives of government-funded scientists are seldom questioned, even by people in my line of work. Government is seen as wanting only what is good for "the people," what is in the "public interest," what fosters the "common good" and scientists are detached, objective observers. To oppose them is to oppose the angels and everyone wants to be on the side of the angels.

But increasingly, huge private trusts and foundations are also funding politicized science. That is the case in the farmed salmon study, which was underwritten by the Pew Charitable Trusts, a $5-billion organization set up nearly 50 years ago to honour the memory of J. Howard Pew, an oil magnate.

Howard Pew would, no doubt, be aghast at the radical, leftist uses to which his fortune is being put today. "The Trusts," as they are known, are chest deep in UN efforts to reduce Third World population and control the Earth's environment.[*] They aid those who seek to discredit free markets and the traditional family and a whole host of other trendy (but pernicious) causes.

In the case of the salmon study, Pew may well have funded the contamination work to assist the environmentalists it also funds who are seeking to end salmon farming. This is not how science is supposed to work, but it is increasingly how it is employed.

For the better part of a decade now, environmentalists have sought an end to aquaculture. They have insisted that the fish inside fish farms -- essentially giant pens or nets that float on the water's surface and extend down five to 10 metres -- are mutant, even dangerous new species. If any escape, as some undoubtedly will, their genes will infest the natural, wild populations and alter them until the "true species" can no longer survive in the wild and die off, or until the mutant new species destroy other plant and animal species.

Since seafood has become increasingly popular in the last decade or two, fish farming has become lucrative. Its rapid expansion in coastal areas has helped create new jobs for forestry workers and miners thrown out of work in those same areas over the same period by many of the same environmentalists who earlier successfully attacked the forestry and mining industries.

(It is possible to argue that environmentalism is the end product of post-modern urban society because of its seeming hatred for people who work the land and its seeming ignorance of what work must be done to feed, clothe and house big-city environmentalists. But that is for another time.)

Anyway, the key to understanding the charge that farmed salmon are too dangerous to eat lies in understanding that benefactors, such as Pew and researchers who oppose fish farming, know that if they can't close down fish farming democratically, a good health scare will drive consumers away and accomplish the same end by throwing fish farmers out of business.

To achieve the policy goals, the authors of the salmon "study" played games with their numbers. Instead of reporting farmed salmon as containing just 50 parts per billion of PCB -- one-fortieth of the 2,000 ppb considered safe by Canadian and American health officials -- the anti-farming researchers reported PCB concentrations in parts per trillion, which at 50,000 ppt seems a much scarier level than just 50 ppb.

Farmed salmon is safe. But if you can be made to doubt its safety with a trumped-up study, the enviros don't mind.

Lorne Gunter
Columnist, Edmonton Journal
Editorial Board Member, National Post

Related Story:

Activists use science to scare us
MIAMI HERALD, 28 February 2004

Index to some of Lorne Gunter's articles

On global warming

On other issues

See also:

  • Global Warming — A collection of information by reputable scientists from around the world who disagree with the David Suzuki crowd and the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change], and who provide irrefutable evidence that debunks the global warming hype.

My Comments:

Extremist enviro-activists seek to damage fish-farming

Propaganda tactics that served to promote ethnic cleansing; the killing of mining and forestry industries; the vilification of men and thereby the systematic destruction of our families; the futile and economy-destroying fight against benign, almost immeasurable and most definitely not unprecedented global warming — the very same tactics are now being used in attempts to destroy fish-farming, an industry that can solve many of the world's hunger and starvation problems.

Give a starving family a fish, and you will feed it for a day.  Give a village community a fishing net and teach it how to make good use of it, and it will feed its families forever.

However, the enviro-extremists would like nothing better than to get rid of all fish nets — especially those used for fish farming, label all fish as poisonous and have all people starve to death.  That way they can eliminate all humans, whom they consider to be a cancer on the face of the Earth.

The article by Lorne Gunter seems to be way off-topic with respect to the scope of a discussion on men's and family issues, but not so fast. Generically, the tactics applied in the enviro-advocacy-promoted propaganda drive resulting from an advocacy study that painted fish-farming-produced fish as a massive health hazard to consumers are similar to and just as effective as those used by feminists to tar all men and families with the feminist advocacy brush.

In years to come the fish-farming scare launched in the instance of the fish-farming study will without a doubt serve as a classic case study of extremely effective sensationalist journalism. Substitute "men", "overpopulation", "families", "violence against women", "deadbeat dads", "the Jewish question", "global warming" or any other desired propagandistic popular cause for the idea that "fish-farming is deadly", and the recipe for a successful propaganda campaign can be repeated at wish, at any time, and for any propagandistic cause. As Lorne Gunter points out in his article, it doesn't even take a conspiracy. It is all done voluntarily.

The consumer scare launched through the recently released fish-farming study would not have had the desired effect if the media would not have made the "findings" of the fish-farming study the leading subject of recent news reports. The fish-farming-study report was a made-for-sensationalized-news propaganda effort. It was extremely effective and still is, and that is seen as a very fine effect, in line with the propagandistic aims of the antagonistic environmentalist enemies of fish farming that wished for nothing less than that.

All they had to do was speak of PCB levels detected in farmed fish in terms relative to fish growing in the wild and not mention the fact that the PCB levels detected bear no danger to consumers relative to recommended maximum levels of PCB in fish. It was easy for them to achieve that. The made-for-sensationalism news release for the promotion of the intentions of the fish-farming study report was eagerly gobbled up by a media with a voracious and insatiable appetite for sensationalism and an aversion to reporting the objective truth.

The media promptly painted farmed fish in such a bad light that few people were left with any doubt that sellers of farmed fish could save on electric power by turning down the lights in their stores. Surely, if it were up to the media, by now farmed fish would glow so brightly that it would outshine any amount of environmentally damaging store lighting. Why, the grocery stores would do well to save the environment by substituting farmed fish for light fixtures in their stores.

Randolph Hurst once said that the truth had nothing to do with the trumped-up sensationalism that his papers fed as news to the public, that sensationalism sells papers. And another master of sensationalism, P.T. Barnum, is supposed to have said that there is a sucker born every minute. Obviously there are more than enough suckers eager to gobble up the propagandistic hype produced by the media circus. Just pick your cause. Any villain and any victim will do -- provided it is a media-approved, politically-correct choice.

Granted, not all of the media is as sensationalist as, for example, the CBC, and although most of the more than 100 media reports on the farmed salmon scare were sensationalist, a good portion of them took a more moderate line. Some of them even spoke up against the media sensationalism used to promote the salmon scare. For an example of an article on the topic by the moderate faction of the media circus check:

Fox News, Junk Science, Friday, January 16, 2004

Eco-Extremism, Not Science, Behind Fishy Salmon Scare

By Steven Milloy

Junk science doesn’t get too much fishier than last week’s scary headlines about farmed salmon being a cancer risk.

Steven Milloy even correctly identifies that,

In fact, there has never been a single health effect associated with consumption of farmed salmon despite countless people eating millions of tons of it over the last 20 years. That’s no surprise since PCBs, dioxins and the other so-called "contaminants" considered in the study have never been scientifically shown to cause harm in humans at typical exposure levels. [My emphasis —WHS]

Right, the glowing-in-the-dark salmon scare comes on top of the foundation of the glowing-in-the-dark PCB scare, causing exponential growth of propagandistic hyperbole.

If only the more moderate factions in the news media were to exhibit the same extent of moderation with respect to the media's propaganda war, using advocacy numbers, against men and families. However, even with Fox News, objectivity doesn't extend quite that far when it comes to demolishing propagandistic media hype promoting the "right" (and profitable) politically-correct causes.

I am sure glad that I don't watch much TV anymore, and never the TV news casts. It is much easier that way to remain objective. TV and most dailies rot the brain. Rotten brains, as if they were sponges, thirstily soak up politically-correct propaganda.

Read more on the issue of promoting propaganda.



* Is the world overpopulated?

If all of the world's people were located in the Province of Alberta (just a touch smaller in area than the State of Texas) and each were to have an equal share of all of the land in Alberta, then each of the world's people would have 98.6m2 of land to live on.

Assuming that the average household consists of three people, a family of three would have enough space (3,184 ft2) for a moderately-sized house and a garden large enough to grow some of the food consumed by the family.

  • Alberta land area: 661,565 km2, 255,541 miles2
  • World population: 6,706,993,152 (Source: CIA World Factbook, July 2008 est.)

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Thoughts are Free

Posted 2002 10 28