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Great Lakes Article:


Cancer fears in salmon may boost sales of wild fish
By Stephanie Zimmerman
Chicago Sun-Times
01/12/04


When Larry Boehlke shops for fish, he thinks about where it came from.

Which is why Boehlke, a Chicago nurse, says he's going to think twice about eating farm-raised salmon.

He's not the only one. Now that a high-profile study has found higher levels of dioxins and other potentially cancer-causing pollutants in farmed salmon, sellers of wild salmon are hoping consumers opt for their product instead.

"I prefer to buy the wild . . . but at the regular stores, they don't have it," said Boehlke, 49, who shopped at a supermarket fish counter Friday night in River North. The farmed-fish study, Boehlke said, "would make me very nervous about buying farm-raised."

The study, published Thursday in the journal Science, included tests of 700 farm-raised salmon that were purchased around the world. Salmon farmed in Northern Europe, especially Scotland and the nearby Faroe Islands of Denmark, contained the most pollutants, the study found. The salmon are fed pellets made from contaminated fish.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, however, said the levels of pollutants are still too low for serious concern.

People in the wild-salmon industry are hoping consumers who've gotten used to eating cheap, abundant, farm-raised salmon will migrate over to the real thing -- king, sockeye and coho salmon caught in the waters of the Pacific Northwest.

Lou Kheriaty, president of Pacific-Gourmet.com, which sells wild salmon to restaurants and direct to the public, said the study generated a lot of buzz. That, along with fears about mad cow disease and eating beef, may make more people want to eat wild salmon.

The farmed-salmon study, led by David Carpenter of the University of Albany, N.Y., found that eating more than a meal of farm-raised salmon per month, depending on its country of origin, could slightly increase the risk of getting cancer later in life.

However, not all wild salmon are the same, if recent studies are any indication.

A University of Wisconsin test of wild coho and chinook salmon from two tributaries of Lake Michigan found widespread contamination of the fish with PBDE, another toxic chemical. The average level of PBDE contamination was 80 parts per billion -- among the highest reported in the world for salmon in open waters, the study reported. Other tests have found high levels of PCBs in Great Lakes salmon.

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