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Safe to Eat?

Fish is an extraordinarily healthy food, but many of us are nervous about eating it, because of mercury?and other kinds?of contamination. Which fish?if any?are safe to eat? This may soon be a moot point, since recent fish shortages mean that there soon may not be many fish LEFT TO EAT. For the first time in 150 years, fishermen on the West Coast will not be allowed to fish for salmon.

When it comes to perceptions about seafood safety, consumers are confused. In a recent survey, they listed tuna, salmon and shrimp as the fish with the highest levels of mercury. But when the question was reversed?which fish had the lowest levels of mercury??the responses were identical: tuna, salmon and shrimp. But the problem will soon be over: we will be able to get that healthy fish oil from plants that are genetically engineered to make it. While many of us are also afraid of genetically-modified foods, they seem to be here to stay and this may be a GOOD use for them! Besides lowering heart disease, fish oil may be a cure for depression, and many people feel somewhat sad in the winter.

The fish containing highest levels of mercury are large predatory fish, the most popularly eaten being shark, swordfish, and tilefish. Food expert Charles Santerre says, "We?re starting to realize in Indiana that the risk of not getting enough fish?and their benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids?is greater than any risks that fish may pose. Many physicians are not well versed in the true risks. They're telling their pregnant patients to simply not eat fish and that?s just very bad advice."

Despite recommendations from the American Heart Association that fish should be consumed at least two times per week, only 17% of those surveyed reported eating fish that often. Only 24% said they ate fish a couple of times a month.

In BBC News, Helen Briggs reports that by combining plants with genes from marine organisms, UK researchers are trying to create crops that can produce the omega 3 fatty acids normally found in oily fish. Feeding these GM crops to farm animals?IF they survive?would create omega 3-rich meat, milk and eggs.

A British Food Standards Agency spokesperson says, "Two portions of fish per week, one white and one oily, provides the amount of long chain omega 3 fatty acids that can help prevent heart disease. The Agency recommends that it is better to eat fish, especially oily fish, rather than fish oil supplements or fish oil fortified foods because as well as being rich in long chain omega 3 fatty acids, fish also contains essential vitamins and minerals and is a good source of protein."

Some researchers think omega-3 fatty acids may be a good treatment for depression. Since major depression affects at least 15% of the adult population, be sure to eat your fish!

Pinol quotes Worm as saying, "?We hardly appreciate living on a blue planet. The oceans define our planet, and their fate may to a large extent determine our fate, now and in the future."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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