William Shatner speaks out on salmon

Montreal-native William Shatner – Captain Kirk, Boston Legal dude, Priceline negotiator and spoken-word enthusiast — has written Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking that salmon farms be removed from wild-salmon migration routes in the Broughton and Discovery islands area of British Columbia.

Shatner, who filmed an episode of the Boston Legal series in the Broughton Archipelago off northern Vancouver Island, says in his letter that salmon farms are having a disastrous impact on "one of Earth’s most precious assets, the wild salmon and steelhead of B.C."

Mary Ellen Walling, executive director, B.C. Salmon Farmers Association, responded that while Shatner’s acting credentials are solid (really?) — his understanding of fisheries research is less stellar.

Activist groups should, at least, be able to meet the same standards of scrutiny applied to industry. And for journalists who often see themselves as the guardians of the public interest, it seems prudent to be wary of being manipulated, even by those who appear to walk on the side of the public good rather than the side of corporate self-interest. Beam me up, Scotty.

That didn’t go over too well with the locals. Several letter writers pointed out that T.J. Hooker was entitled to his views, didn’t represent industry, and there were lots of ways to do research. Aquaculture folks – facts are important, but are never enough.

Impact of listeria on infants in B.C. documented

A new report shows that of the 78 residents of the Canadian province of British Columbia who contracted listeriosis in the past six years, 10 per cent were pregnant women whose infections put them at high risk of miscarriage or stillbirth.

The majority — nearly 60 per cent — of pregnant women diagnosed with listeriosis either miscarry or have stillbirths.

In a case described in the current B.C. Medical Journal, a pregnant woman in her 30s went to a Lower Mainland hospital complaining of a stiff neck, fever, back pain and headache. After arriving, she delivered a stillborn baby at 21 weeks gestation.

The authors wrote,

"Health care providers [want] better information for themselves and resources they could share with pregnant women. … The information provided to pregnant women by health care providers needs to be targeted and clear," and that as a result of the spring survey, BCCDC will start a project to better inform health care providers and their patients about food safety risks during pregnancy.

It’s a national embarrassment that statistics on listeriosis in Canada are either not available or hopelessly unreliable. Further, the call to action probably never would have gotten noticed were it not for the 24 deaths and dozens of illnesses in the Maple Leaf listeria outbreak. Pregnant women and other at-risk populations deserve better.

Meet iFSN: Chris Babcock

Two bananas relaxing on a riverbank suddenly hear someone calling to them. After a short time, they notice a pile of dung floating towards them. The dung shouts “Hey fellas! Come on in! The water’s nice!” One banana whispers to the other “Do you really believe that crap?”

My name is Chris Babcock, and I am a fifth-year financial services major at Kansas State University. I was told this joke while working in the produce section in a grocery store during high school. The moral that I extracted from the joke is that it’s important to have reliable information at the right time. Since the television is such a limited source of relevant information, I decided last year to stop wasting my time watching it, and cancelled my services. I realize now how much time I save reading news from the Internet.

 It’s no secret that the Internet is an incredible way to gain information. It amazes me how much new information I can learn from a few hours of researching for the International Food Safety Network. Our job is to filter relevant stories for the subscriber, so that he or she doesn’t have to. In minutes, one can read the most current news that we spend so much time finding. It’s truly money well spent to be knowledgeable about the latest developments in agriculture and food safety. Making a donation to our cause will help provide the funds necessary to keep the information chain rolling, and minimize the opportunity costs you incur trying to stay updated.