Buzz Hofford testifies before National Organic Standards Board

May 3, 2011

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Buzz Hofford, food service director at Bon Appétit, testified before the National Organic Standards Board. Hofford presented the following testimony:  

Good morning, my name is Buzz Hofford. I’m speaking as a Trustee for PCC Natural Markets, a certified organic chain of nine stores here in the Puget Sound area and the largest consumer-owned natural foods co-op in the country. In addition to representing 47,000 active members, we also serve more than 100,000 customers a week. 

As leaders of Salmon Nation, we ask you to revise your previous recommendations for organic aquaculture, prohibit certification of carnivorous, migratory species and limit certification to closed, land-based systems with vegetarian diets. 

Fish that spend their lives in floating ocean feedlots suffer unhealthy conditions, just like cattle in CAFOs and chickens in battery cages. Most ocean fish have strong instinctual drives: wild salmon migrate thousands of miles before returning to the streams of their birth. Confining these fish in cages prevents them from exercising their natural behaviors, violating a core organic principle. 

Organic standards also prohibit antibiotics.Yet aquaculture today consumes more antibiotics per pound than any other feedlot industry. CAFOs at sea are no healthier than those on land. 

The board’s recommendation would encourage aquaculture to continue harvesting enormous volumes of wild fish for feed; this practice is both ecologically unsustainable and unhealthy for consumers. Feed pellets made of wild fish contain high concentrations of PCBs, dioxins and other contaminants, which are then passed on to consumers. These chemical contaminants further violate organic principles. 

Floating feedlots violate the organic principle of protecting the natural environment by annually flushing millions of pounds of unfiltered fish waste directly into surrounding marine environments. 

Salmon farms expose wild salmon to diseases and parasites, threatening their survival. Every year scientists report elevated levels of sea lice on wild juvenile salmon near salmon farms, resulting in declining populations of wild, native species. 

Native fish like our prized wild salmon already struggle for survival against ever-increasing environmental threats. Fish farms threaten the long-term viability of these populations. 

We strongly encourage you to prohibit certifying migratory, carnivorous fish and limit certification to fish raised in closed, land-based systems with vegetarian diets.  

Thank you very much.