Is it safe to eat Gulf Seafood?
This topic recently came to my attention after I watched an episode of the HBO show Vice, which explored the current safety of seafood from the Gulf of Mexico. We all remember the 2010 BP oil spill, and the massive clean up efforts that followed. The FDA reported within months after the spill that seafood was safe to eat. I personally don't remember many people even questioning this either. And I have to admit, when I visited the gulf in 2012 the beaches looked in good shape to me. But after watching this episode and researching the topic more myself, I can honestly say this cleanup is far from over.
I am not going to go in to near as much detail that this episode did, I'm going to give a summary and my opinion, but I recommend watching this episode and I will also include some links at the end of this blog if you want more information. Long story short, in 2010 BP had a pipeline spill out crude oil for 86 straight days until they could get it stopped. This wreaked havoc on wildlife, industry, and tourism. Oil floats to the top of water, and the ocean started carrying it further east. Now methods were used to extract the oil, but as the oil was creeping closer and closer to Florida's beaches, BP and the coast guard decided to take different measures. A toxic substance was brought in, that has been banned in several other countries, to help "clean up". I put clean up in quotes because that is hardly what this substance does. The substance in called Corexit, and it was sprayed all over the Gulf to minimize the appearance of oil, not actually clean it up. Now Corexit has been shown it multiple studies to be more toxic than oil itself, but even worse when combined together Corexit and oil is 52 times more toxic than when alone. So why would BP use this? Well like I said the oil was drifting closer and closer to Florida, the spill was already such a catastrophe and embarrassment for lasting as long as it did, the thought of oil winding up on Florida's pristine beaches would have been a finisher to BP. But what did Corexit do to keep it from drifting towards Florida? What Corexit does it binds with oil and makes it heavier and sinks it. Out of sight, out of mind. If the public can't see it, it doesn't exist. Now sinking it creates even worse problems, because you can no longer clean it up from the surface like with oil itself, and contaminates sea life even more than when it is left on the surface. And today oil is still being washed up to shore that was sank by Corexit.
Many people who worked on the cleanup and were living around the Gulf during the cleanup have gotten really sick with upper respiratory problems, skin problems, and some have even died. It has been reported that BP instructed people to not wear masks or other safety equipment because of the appearance it gave to the public. These people are now paying the consequences. So how does this affect you if you don't live near the Gulf? Many Gulf fishermen, shrimpers, and oystermen have noticed major problems with their catch. Extreme deformities like shrimp without eyeballs, problems with the gills, oil in their gills, and other genetic deformities that one fishermen said he has to throw away over half of his catch because it is unsalable. He also said he has trouble sleeping at night because he is worried about the seafood he does sell, that it may hurt somebody. And every single one of these fishermen said they would not eat their seafood.
Now I'm not going to go in to other areas that the episode touched on like why the Government and coast guard would participate in this, but I'm sure you can connect the dots. But I am going to say that currently it is very hard for me to recommend eating seafood. Just 2 weeks ago the FDA said that Pacific and Alaskan fish were OK to eat and hadn't been affected by Fukushima. (The Japanese nuclear catastrophe) But if we learned anything from the BP oil spill is that the FDA isn't always right, or may rush to green light or cover up details to not scare the public or affect industry. The fishermen in the Gulf are saying they won't eat their fish, now we have radiation possibly contaminating our west coast fish, and Atlantic water fish has been shown to be higher in Mercury than Pacific due to power plants and emissions, what fish is left? My current recommendation is to put seafood on hold or limit it for the time being, unless you are very selective on where you get it from.
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