Organowashing. Is that word? Well, we're going to be introduced to this phenomenon when "organic" farmed salmon enters the Canadian market. Yes friends, the farmed salmon saga continues and this time our protagonist will be painted green with an O stamped on its back.
When I'm doing my grocery shopping and see an organic label, I take some comfort in knowing that the overall ecological footprint is significantly smaller than that of conventional products, especially for those products that are local and organic. If, like me, you place some level of confidence in these labeled products over others, make sure your organic label loyalty stops at "organic" farmed salmon, cause it's about as far from the definition of the term as you can get.
No wonder numerous Canadian organic (land) farmers, food safety groups and conservation orgs are pissed off at last week's decision by the Canadian General Standards Board to allow farmed salmon to carry an organic stamp; everything we've come to expect from organic products and all the work our organic farmers have put in to meet the more rigorous standards, is about to be undermined.
Pesticide free? Nope. Organic feed inputs? As if. Sustainable feed inputs, maybe? Not unless sustainable means placing further pressure on wild fish stocks that are caught and ground up into fishmeal and fish oil that is then fed to farmed salmon in another part of the world, creating a net-loss and displacement of marine protein. What about ensuring disease and parasite-free salmon to market? hahaha. Well it must mean farms won't be able to release waste, other pollutants and escaped fish into the marine environment, right? No, that's ok too. And marine mammal deaths? Licenses are still granted to kill marine mammals and farms are not penalized for drownings or entanglements. Organic or-garbage? Seems pretty clear that there is little difference between the usual farmed salmon found in supermarkets and the new organowash products that are on their way.
In fact, there are farms operating right now with disease issues, shockingly high numbers of marine mammal (some endangered) mortalities, and routine pesticide loading that would be eligible for this stamp. Greenpeace visited one of these farms last year.
There are companies trying to grow salmon in a more sustainable way. Closed containment salmon operations using more sustainable feed inputs and avoiding dousing their animals in chemicals, deserve the support some supermarket chains will be giving to the “organic” farmed salmon. As Greenpeace prepares for its 4th annual Sustainable Seafood Supermarket Ranking to be released early this summer, we're asking that consumers help keep up the pressure on their supermarkets so that they don't think organic salmon is a legitimate alternative to their Redlisted farmed salmon.
Other farmed salmon products currently on the market pretending to be something they're not? Loblaw's WiseSource salmon - a product coming from a salmon farming method that adds other species like shellfish and seaweed to decrease the impact of nutrient waste on the marine environment but still has all the other issues that conventional farms do, and any other farmed salmon product claiming to be certified organic, sustainable or awesome in one way or another.
A number of conservation groups have joined together to launch a great website with additional information about this new standard. Check out more information here. But don't take "organic" farmed salmon through the check-out!