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Defining which fish are organic is a whole new can of worms

US - Buying a pork chop labeled "organic" is relatively straightforward: you can assume that the pig that produced it ate only organic food, roamed outdoors from time to time, and was left free of antibiotics. But what makes a fish organic?

That is the question vexing the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which decides such things. The answer could determine whether US citizens will be able to add fish to the growing list of organic foods they are buying, and whether fish farmers will be able to tap into that trend and the profits that go with it.

Organic foods, which many people believe to be more healthful -- while others scoff -- are grown on farms that shun chemicals and synthetic fertilizers and that meet certain government standards for safeguarding the environment and animals.

An organic tomato must flourish without conventional pesticides. An organic chicken cannot be fed antibiotics. Food marketers can use terms like "natural" and "free range" with some wiggle room, but only the USDA can sanction the "organic" label.

To the dismay of some fishermen -- including many in the Alaskan salmon industry -- this means that wild fish, whose living conditions are not controlled, are not likely to make the grade. And that has led to a lot of bafflement, since wild fish tend to swim in pristine waters, show lower levels of contaminants, and be favored by fish lovers.

Source: Taipei Times

the Fish Site Editor

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