Salmon study authors hit back at critics –

Salmon study authors hit back at critics Published:  23 January, 2004

THE authors of the January 9 Science article on contaminants in salmon have issued a press release defending their stand,despite the widespread criticism it has attracted.

Ron Hites, David Carpenter, Jeff Foran and Barbara Knuth wrote: “Since its publication in the journal Science on January 9, our study, which showed significant levels of environmental contaminants in farmed salmon, has been distorted and mischaracterized in a number of ways. Since these distortions have high potential to confuse the public about our results, we would like to address a few of the issues that have been reported by the media.”

Regarding government standards and the meaning of the consumption recommendations reported in the study, the authors say that since the purpose of the study was to do a health-based analysis, they naturally used the health-based guidelines rather than regulatory levels that balance a variety of other factors. They say, “It is simply wrong for critics and even government regulators to assert or imply that a certain level of contaminants is safe because it falls under the FDA or FSA regulatory thresholds.”

In response to criticism of the methodology they say that the study was focused on contaminant levels in the types of salmon broadly available to consumers, they tested farmed salmon from all major producing regions of the world and the only type of wild salmon widely available to consumers: Pacific salmon.

The authors also deny that they were tools of a U.S. trade policy out to damage European aquaculture or that the science was manipulated by the study’s sponsor, the Pew Charitable Trusts. “First, the study went through peer-review and scientific editing processes at Science, one of the world’s most respected scientific journals. Science’s review process is widely seen as among the most rigorous in the scientific community. “

Second, at no time in the development or execution of the study were any of the authors in contact with U.S. trade policymakers or individuals representing wild salmon fisheries in the U.S.

The authors continued: “For critics to claim without any factual basis that the U.S. government or the study’s sponsor manipulated one of the world’s premier scientific journals and six highly experienced and credentialed research scientists is merely an attempt to discredit the study through suspicion and innuendo.”