Let’s talk fish. Specifically, salmon fish. There has been a lot of confusion surrounding our conversations concerning who, where, when and what has been done, and is being done, to our salmon. And I say, our salmon, because, at least for the moment, wild salmon still more or less belongs to the people of the earth who catch and eat the salmon ( with certain permission from government and First Nations) whether individually or commercially. The salmon also belong to the bear, to birds of prey, even to the occasional cougar, they also belong to the old growth forests where bear scatter salmon bones; an individual salmon belongs to whomever or whatever can catch one in the wild. But that may not always be the case, even if wild salmon survive the fish farms.
Fish farms are disgusting. There’s no other word for it. The salmon swim around in stressed, overcrowded, unhealthy conditions. They are in fish prisons. And they have endured horrors spared human prisoners. Our Charter forbids prisoners being forcibly sterilized and sex changed while incarcerated. But some of BC fish farms are using fish that have been sex changed and triploided (sterilized). Why the sex change?
In fish farm pens, 10 to 20 percent of male salmon “jack” early, that is they mature before the females do and die before the others are ready for market. Big loss to the fish farm owners. So in fish pens, at least, females are not just desired, they are demanded. So DFO biologists came to the rescue. They developed a process by which some female fry were exposed to enough testosterone that the process actually turned them into males. When mature these treated fish acted as males and made sperm to fertilize the eggs of the normal females. However, because these sex changed males were still genetically female, their sperm was composed primarily of the chromosome xx instead of a relative equal number of xx and xy’s. So fish farms could get eggs that were primarily from a sex changed parent.
But that isn’t all. According to Dr. Edward Donaldson, DFO, they now know how to apply estrogen directly to the fish. But what if these fish escape their captivity and mate with wild salmon? Could that not produce some bizarre fish genetic mutations? To counteract this every present possibility some of the fish farms are using a method called “Triploidy” to induce sterilization. But the process is not one hundred per cent successful.
Triploid fish can have an extra chromosome but this occurs in less than one percent of fish in the wild. These fish are always naturally sterile. But because they don’t put energy into reproducing or go through the maturing process they grow really big and fat. So of course our DFO people, always on the lookout for aiding fish farms, are really into this. They devised methods of shocking the fish eggs with heat or pressure that makes them into triploids. And had the DFO stopped there, things may not have gone over the top. But they haven’t stopped there. Not content to just sterilize huge numbers of fish they have also changed their sex and have then released them into the lakes and rivers and coastal waters of British Columbia. This from:
The Reproductive Containment of Genetically Altered Salmonids (page 113-114) (Biotechnology, Genetics and Nutrition Section, West Vancouver Laboratory, Biological Sciences Branch, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 4160 Marine Drive, West Vancouver, BC V7V 1N6)
So we now have a whole lot of sex changed and triploid fish swimming around not only in some fish farms, but also in our lakes and rivers (fifty per cent of B.C. small lakes and rivers) and other coastal waters. Have they mated with normal fish? As the sterilization process is not 100 per cent? Nobody knows this for sure. These fish are referred to as genetically modified fish but they are different from transgenic fish, the ones that have been dubbed FrankenFish by the US press and are currently abiding in North Vancouver. These transgenic fish are also referred to as genetically modified fish, but they are far, far more genetically modified than the fish that have only been sex changed and sterilized. Transgenic salmon are an absolutely new thing on the face of the earth. And they have been patented.
• Transgenic salmon are no longer, strictly speaking, salmon. While they begin their lives as Pacific salmon that doesn’t last long. As eyes, other genes are sliced into them…Atlantic salmon genes, and the genes of an eel called the pout fish and rapid growth hormones. On top of this, the eggs are made triploid and somewhat later, treated with estrogen. So we now have a monster fish, mostly female, not completely sterilized, who is loaded with hormones. And this monstrosity is patented by a private corporation called AquaBounty that used Canadian universities and Canadian government resources to carry through the research to getting the patent.
Because these fish are patented they are being carefully guarded. They are being held in land tanks in West Vancouver and cared for by Dr. Bob Devlin.DFO (North Shore News, March 15, 2011, Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News, Oct 16, 2011). At the moment, AquaBounty is seeking permission from the States to develop the Frankenfish for public consumption. Three of the advisers to the US health authorities have previously worked for Monsanto.
There are two huge problems with both the sex changed, sterilized fish that are not transgenic, and the monster Frankenfish who are. A major problem in both categories of fish is that both carry a load of extra hormones, mostly estrogen. Zenoestrogens, or estrogens than come into the body from the outside, are enormously dangerous. There is currently much scientific agreement that pregnant women who consume only small amounts of zenoestorgens at certain stages of their pregnancies can put their fetus’ at risk and that larger amounts consumed by eating fish loaded with residue zenoestrogens can cause learning disabilities in children.
As for the transgenic fish, there is not only the ethics problem of genetically altering our wild life … why has our government allowed an animal life form to be patented? Without our knowledge? Without our consent? What next? Consider. There is an artificial pig in line in the US waiting for his birth certificate in the form of a patent. Chickens, cows, goats, horses? As the patent holding corporations wipe out the natural animals will we find ourselves paying not only for the animals, but for the corporations holding the patents?
The other very serious problem with both categories of fish is that the public has not been advised or consulted on admitting either one to BC waters or BC land. Neither the federal nor the provincial movement is authorized to introduce genetically altered fish into our environment and we believe they have wildly over stepped their authority in doing so. We are not through with this. Betty Krawczyk