September 30, 2014

More Hidden Soy to Enter the Food Chain: Factory-farmed Fish Feed

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Health Impact News Editor Comments: Very few people understand just how much soy is in our modern diets. As this report states: “From 1996 to 2009, the sales of foods containing soy increased from approximately $1 billion to almost $4.5 billion.” Few people realize that factory-farmed livestock are dependent on soy as a source of cheap protein that promotes fast growth. Virtually no studies have been conducted on the effects all this soy has on the quality of these meats. Tropical Traditions is one of the few companies that worked with a poultry biologist at Ohio State University to determine that soy protein from chicken feed is passed into egg yolks and chicken tissue. (See: Soy protein present in egg yolks and chicken tissues) Thus, people looking to avoid soy in their diet are consuming it in foods where it is not listed as an ingredient. Now, the soybean industry is venturing into a new market: factory farmed fish.

Factory-Fed Fish: How the Soy Industry Is Expanding Into the Sea

by Food and Water Watch

In 2010, the CEO of the American Soy Association reported that the organization has been closely monitoring progress in the development of offshore fish farming legislation and meeting with congres­sional staff on the topic. In March 2011, it endorsed a controversial plan that would allow such fish farming or “aquaculture” in the Gulf of Mexico. In September 2011, a press release was issued announcing a new marine fish farm project that would “revolutionize sustainable agriculture.” The source of the release? The Illinois Soybean Association.

Why are trade associations for an agricultural commodity that is grown on land involved in policies and marketing that affect the use and stewardship of our oceans?

Seafood is one of our last wild food sources. Fish are a vital part of many people’s diets because of poten­tial health benefits, fresh taste and the connection that fish give us to our oceans and coasts. Around half of the world’s seafood, however, now comes from farms rather than from the wild. In some of these farms, fish are grown in crowded, polluting cages and may be fattened on commercially prepared diets.

Feed has been one of the aquaculture industry’s greatest challenges. Many of the species grown by the ocean finfish industry are highly valued carnivorous fish, which have typically been fed diets consisting of fishmeal and oil made from smaller, wild fish. The excessive use of wild fish to grow farmed fish can make aquaculture inefficient. Further, aquaculture has been accused of spurring the depletion of these small fish, which is problematic not only for their own populations, but also to the other animals that rely on them for food.

With little public scrutiny, soy has been hailed by some as a sustainable alternative to feed based on wild fish, thus supposedly solving some of the fish farming industry’s sustainability problems.

In this report, the first to address the relationship between the soy and factory fish farming industries, Food & Water Watch reveals that, while the soy industry stands to make large profits from the expan­sion of factory fish farming, there is no guarantee that soy-based aquaculture feed can consistently produce healthy fish or promote ecological respon­sibility. In fact, by causing fish to produce excess waste, soy could lead to an even more polluting fish farming industry.

By supporting factory fish farming, the soy industry could not only help to expand an industry that degrades marine environments, threatens wild fish populations and damages coastal communities, it could also extend its own negative impacts. Already, industrial soy production has led to the prevalence of genetically modified crops on U .S. farmland and in consumer food-products, caused massive deforestation in South America and displaced indigenous communities living in areas now used to grow soy.

Rather than actually promoting sustainability in a developing industry, the involvement of soy associa­tions in aquaculture could spur the growth of two industries that have extremely negative impacts on our land, our oceans and the communities that depend on them.

Read the Full Report

Excerpts:

As soy becomes increasingly ubiquitous in our diets — in processed foods and the meat from animals that have been raised on it — we must ask what health impacts this high level of soy consumption may have on us. Scientists are beginning to question claims about the benefits of eating soy and to suggest that the plant-based estrogens that occur naturally in soy, many of which are endocrine disruptors, could potentially have adverse impacts. In light of these concerns and unanswered questions, it is troubling to know that much of our fish — one of our last wild foods — could be fattened on this crop.

Further, a large-scale offshore fish farming industry could cause major environmental damage . Placing fish farms in the open ocean has been pitched as a way to minimize pollution by diluting or dispersing waste. There is not enough information available yet to know what the long-term effects of these farms will be, and research from Italy indicates that pollution from offshore farms “may affect the marine ecosystem well beyond the local scale.” The ecosystems around farms could also be disrupted by chemicals and drugs used on farms, potentially leading to negative health consequences for people . One study found that the use of antimicrobials on fish farms can lead to the development of drug-resistant genes in fish pathogens — genes that could be transferred to bacteria that infect humans. This could make human illnesses more difficult to treat.

Read the Full Report

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CSA Farm Offers “Health Care Shares” to Patients Selected by Their Doctors

CSA Farm Offers “Health Care Shares” to Patients Selected by Their Doctors

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A visitor who swings by the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) on a Wednesday afternoon will see rows opened boxes lined up across the barn floor. Farm crew members between the ages of 15 and 18 are distributing the week’s harvest evenly between the boxes.

But what might sounds like an ordinary community-supported agriculture or CSA farm, is nothing of the sort. In fact, all this fresh produce will be delivered—free of charge—to low income Vermonters through a unique partnership with area hospitals. Building on the CSA model, the farm at VYCC offers weekly “health care shares” during the growing season to patients who have been selected by their doctors.

USDA Approves Toxic Herbicide Amidst Great Public Outcry

USDA Approves Toxic Herbicide Amidst Great Public Outcry

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Dr. Oz caused a lot of controversy last week when he aired a show titled: New GMO Pesticide Doctors Are Warning Against. The show was highlighting the recent USDA approval of Dow Chemical’s herbicide “Enlist,” which is expected to gain the approval of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This EPA approval would clear the path for the herbicide to begin being used on America’s farmlands and crops.

Dr. Oz apparently feels so strongly about this topic, and how toxic and dangerous this new herbicide is, that he reportedly did something he has never done before on his show: he encouraged his viewers and followers to take political action to try to stop the approval of this product from being used on food. He started a petition to President Obama on Whitehouse.gov, and by the end of the week it was well on its way to the required 100,000 signatures.

The controversial herbicide by Dow contains 2,4-D, a highly powerful and toxic component that supporters of GMO crops now say is necessary due to the fact that super weeds have become resistant to Monsanto’s Roundup containing glyphosate. If approved, it will enter the food supply and bring in potentially billions of dollars to Dow Chemical.

So I asked Health Impact News investigative reporter John P. Thomas to research 2,4-D and write a report, as well as to educate us a bit about the approval process with the EPA to get new chemicals approved for use in the marketplace. What you will learn about 2,4-D, which is about to be approved to be sprayed on crops all throughout the U.S., will indeed shock you.

Changing to non-GMO Soy Transformed the Health of my Pigs

Changing to non-GMO Soy Transformed the Health of my Pigs

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From the day that Danish pig farmer Ib Borup Pederson switched away from GM soy, his animals became healthier and more productive. Birth deformities reduced, sows became more fertile, medicine costs fell, and profits went up. The changes were linked to the reduction in the levels of the herbicide glyphosate in their feed.

How Did Almonds Surpass Peanuts as America’s Top Nut? The Dark Side of Almonds

How Did Almonds Surpass Peanuts as America’s Top Nut? The Dark Side of Almonds

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Almonds are now the most-consumed nut eaten in America, surpassing even peanuts. Americans’ consumption of almonds has increased 220 percent since 2005.

Is this meteoric rise in almond consumption due to consumer demand, or consumer compliance?

A look behind the scenes at just how almonds came to dominate the market, and what it takes to produce such large quantities, reveals a dark side to almonds of which most consumers are probably unaware.

Costa Rica Supreme Court: GMO Approval Process Unconstitutional

Costa Rica Supreme Court: GMO Approval Process Unconstitutional

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In a ruling lauded by Costa Rica’s anti-GMO activists, the country’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court struck down the government’s regulatory framework on genetically modified organisms, declaring the process of approval for GMO projects unconstitutional.

In the court’s opinion, Chief Justice Gilbert Armijo Sancho wrote that the regulations violate the Costa Rican Constitution because the secrecy allowed to GMO companies in terms of the genetic information of their products violates the constitutional right to freedom of information.

“This is an important precedent that shows the interests of companies linked to this type of activity – among them the multinational Monsanto which is seeking permits to plant corn – have benefited from the granting of permits in a manner that violates the fundamental rights of the population,” FECON said.

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