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Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said the Tribe strongly opposes the tentative approval of genetically engineered salmon by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

"Salmon is in our traditional stories, songs and dances,” said Sisk. “We must stay pure to exist in the ancient circle connecting our tribal customs to salmon. The Winnemem Wintu have a right to protect salmon, and certainly NOT allow them to be genetically modified in anyway. They must not have their genes and DNA subject to exploring ideas.”

“It must be recognized as an inherent right of Indigenous Peoples for the Winnemem Wintu to hold the salmon as a relative that is so intrinsic to our culture. There are complete eco systems based on the clarity, knowledge and health of the salmon,” said Sisk.

“The Winnemem Wintu object to GE production, as it would certainly impact our obligation to salmon and would change the traditional responsibility to salmon and our relationship that exists for thousands of years. It is also the right of the tribes to expect the same engagement of the omega 3's to maintain a quality of health to traditionally exchange with the Winnemem Wintu, the trees, birds, animals, plants and soils as they purify the waters on each of their once in their life journey,” she concluded.

Sisk urged people to tell the FDA to stop the frankenfish by going to the Food and Water Watch website and sending a letter:

The Winnemem Wintu Tribe, fishermen and environmental groups are currently fighting federal government plans to raise Shasta Dam, as well as the FDA’s approval of Frankenfish. The dam raise would result in the flooding of many of the Tribe’s sacred sites.

The dam expansion, planned in conjunction with the construction of the Governor Jerry Brown’s peripheral tunnels, would also lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt and other imperiled fish species.

The Tribe is also working to bring the original strain of winter run chinook salmon, now thriving on the Rakaira River in New Zealand, back to the Tribe’s ancestral river, the McCloud, above Lake Shasta.

During the Social Justice, Real Justice Conference at the University of Oregon, Eugene from February 14-16, Chief Sisk led a workshop and showed a new film on the struggle to carry out the Tribe’s Coming of Age Ceremony. She also participated in a panel, in collaboration with Winona LaDuke, Dania Colegrove and Analia Hillman, entitled “Environmental Justice and Human Rights on the River.”

For more information about the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, go to:

There isn’t much time left to stop the approval of genetically engineered salmon. On December 21, 2012, the FDA released a draft environmental assessment (EA) finding, in spite of much evidence to the contrary, that genetically engineered (GE) AquaAdvantage salmon pose no risk to the environment.

AquAdvantage salmon is the trade name for a genetically modified Atlantic salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies. This “Frankensalmon” has been modified by the addition of a growth hormone regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon and a promoter gene from an ocean eel pout to the Atlantic's 40,000 genes. These genes enable the “Frankensalmon” to grow year-round instead of only during spring and summer, thus increasing the speed at which the fish grows.

The document claimed that the fish "will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States." It also claimed that the GE salmon, the first ever intended for human consumption in the United States, is unlikely to harm populations of wild salmon.

The FDA made the finding in spite of a petition from conservation groups requesting that it complete a comprehensive environmental impact statement on the risks GE fish could present to the natural marine environment.

Earthjustice filed that petition in May 2011 on behalf of the Ocean Conservancy, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Center for Food Safety, the Center for International Environmental Law and Greenpeace.

“FDA’s narrow analysis fails to seriously consider the risks these genetically engineered fish could pose to our natural environment,” said Earthjustice attorney Khushi Desai. “If these fish mix with wild salmon, the ecological harm could be devastating. This genetically engineered fish puts the entire US salmon industry at risk, and most importantly it could threaten the very survival of our native salmon populations.”

The finding occurs as the Obama administration is continuing and expanding some of the worst environmental policies of the Bush administration, including exporting record amounts of water out of the Delta, killing record numbers of fish at the Delta pumping facilities, supporting the raising of Shasta Dam and promoting the privatization of the fisheries through the "catch shares" program. (

Originally posted to Dan Bacher on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 08:07 AM PST.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Native American Netroots.

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Comment Preferences

  •  These dolphins object to Frankenfish! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, chimene

    (Sorry about the ad, grrrr)

  •  This sounds like an argument against (0+ / 0-)

    gay marriage.

    •  It is a serious issue (5+ / 0-)

      The GE salmon are more aggressive and voracious than wild salmon. The idea that they would be farmed is no assurance of segregation from the wild.

      There is also the risk of disease and parasites such as sea lice spreading to wild populations, which has already occurred with farmed non-GE salmon.

      There are good reasons they're called Frankenfish. The food chain is too important to mess with.

      •  If you are concerned about messing (0+ / 0-)

        with the food chain, that horse has long, long, long ago left the barn.  At least five to eight thousand years ago when the Chinese started cultivating rice in a serious manner.

        But to be more specific to GE salmon, if there are legitimate issues involved here, I'd like some scientific evidence, not crazy religiosity (which irks me, no matter where it comes from).

        Just saying, cite Pubmed instead of Alternet, and chances are that I'll be just a tad more receptive . ..  

        Or even Wikipedia, for that matter:

        AquAdvantage salmon is the trade name for a genetically modified Atlantic salmon developed by AquaBounty Technologies. The AquAdvantage salmon has been modified by the addition of a growth hormone regulating gene from a Pacific Chinook salmon and a promoter gene from an ocean pout to the Atlantic's 40,000 genes.
        So, the bottom line is that these scary, scary fish were just modified with other fish genes and gene related manipulations.  It's not like a tomato gene was put in them, or anything that bizarre.   Of course, that's a reference to when a fish gene was put in tomatoes (or is it tomatos? Dan Quayle, where are you when needed?) and they all swum out of California's central valley into the Deep Blue Pacific never to be seen again . . .
        •  This sounds like knee-jerk (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:


          •  I dunno - at least peruse the (0+ / 0-)

            wikipedia entry (that I forgot to link last time, oops).

            which goes on to add:

            These genes enable it (i.e., the FRANKENFISH) to grow year-round instead of only during spring and summer.
            so think about why salmon normally don't grow during the fall and winter?  Could it be a shortage of food, such that if they had a requirement to grow, they'd be short of energy to meet their basal metabolic requirements and die?   Which would happen to these FRANKENFISH if they got out into the wild?

            Who knows.  In any event, you'd think that since fish have all the required genetic apparati to grow year round, evolution would have combined it in such a way to allow them to do so if there was any competitive advantage out in the wild.  But that doesn't seem to have happened.

            •  For the Winnemem Wintu Tribe (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              the main issues seem to be the challenges that the introduction of genetically engineered salmon presents to tribal sovereignty, jurisdiction, and land & water tenure. I'd like to see some evidence that AquaBounty knows how to negotiate with tribes, not some irrelevant scientism.

              Just saying, cite Vine Deloria, Jr., Peter d'Errico, Steve Newcomb, or Robert Williams instead of Wikipedia, and chances are that I'll be just a tad more receptive...

              •  Yeah, "scientism" (0+ / 0-)

                who are you anyways, Tom Cruise?

                In any event, anti-intellectual screeds attract a fairly robust following here at DailyKos.

                I suppose I should learn to ignore the bait, but that remains quite the challenge to me.

                •  Yeah, "religiosity" (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Who are you, last month's science-fair medal winner?

                  Study up on some history and then report back about who's intellectual and anti-intellectual.

                  •  To me bat shit crazy superstitions (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    are no better if they come from the left than if they come from the right.

                    It seems like you believe differently, so there's probably not much point discussing this with you.

                    But whatever, I've pretty much resigned myself to an Idiocracy-style future for this country.

                    Not sure, however, if it is all that heartening to see it play out so vividly and so quickly right before my eyes, however.

                    Since I'm fairly old, I always suspected it wouldn't get quite this bad so quickly until I was long dead.

                    Oh well, live and learn, I suppose.

                    •  Here's to living and learning. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      It's not a left or right issue, nor is it a matter of superstition vs. science. What it comes down to is that the Winnemem Wintu Tribe is asserting its jurisdiction in terms that are unfamiliar to many of those whose land & water tenure overlaps or conflicts with the tenure of the tribe. Those expressions of jurisdiction may have various aesthetic, historical, philosophical, scientific, or theological roots, but I think it's a mistake to label them "bat shit crazy" because only they are, at first hearing, unfamiliar.

                      •  No, I get it that the native peoples (0+ / 0-)

                        are agrieved (and I make no judgement as to rightly or wrongly in this posting) and want their fair share of the economic pie.

                        Perhaps this particular tribe has missed out on the casino bonanza, or whatever, and are particularly pissed off.

                        Fair enough.

                        But OTOH, is it really good public policy to pander to perceived ancient superstitions?

                        Who knows.

                        Again, you seem to think so, I disagree.

                        If they can make their case based on empirical evidence (or "scientism" as you call it) - well, I say more power to them.

                        If not, perhaps they should cease and desist?  Or at least be honest about their motives?

                        •  I believe you are misperceiving and mislabeling (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          an articulation of thousands of years of lived experience as "superstition." For a definition of scientism, you could refer back to the source you've endorsed, Wikipedia:

                          Scientism is a term used, usually pejoratively, to refer to belief in the universal applicability of the scientific method and approach, and the view that empirical science constitutes the most authoritative worldview or most valuable part of human learning to the exclusion of other viewpoints.
                          I'd add that you are misunderstanding the motivations of the Winnemem Wintu as purely economic and, while you're at it, throwing in some good old-fashioned stereotypes about the "casino bonanza."
                          •  exactly, you are using the term pejoratively (0+ / 0-)

                            at least we agree on that (heck, YOU supplied the link supportng my position on this) - that you are dissing science.

                            Just saying, DailyKos is supposedly a "reality based" community, and as much as I cringe when hearing that phrase, it does imply that we accept rather than debase science.

                          •  Let's add, then, that you've misread (0+ / 0-)

                            the linked article. It's about scientism, not science. You've already confused scientism with scientology, and now you're confusing it with science. I respect science. I don't respect scientism,

                            the view that the characteristic inductive methods of the natural sciences are the only source of genuine factual knowledge and, in particular, that they alone can yield true knowledge about man and society
                          •  well, you totally fooled me (0+ / 0-)

                            what with your apparent knee jerk reaction against genetically engineered salmon.

                            What is most telling is that that was no such reaction against salmon that were naturally bred to breed and grow twice as fast  - even though from a scientific POV the underlying basis is completely unknown (and thus ought to be even scarier) than the genetically engineered fish that were ratonally designed.

                            Bottom line -you support the mysterious (aka "scientism") while rejecting the rationally designed (i.e, "science")

                            Don't don't give me any bullshit about how you respect science.  You clearly don't.

                          •  I not only support and respect science, (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm also very good at it. But you are clearly engaging in scientism. During my three decades of scientific research and teaching, it hasn't ceased to amaze me how emotional some supposedly "rational" scientists can become when someone points out that the scientific method does not provide absolute or the only justifiable access to the truth.

        •  Here is a brief article (0+ / 0-)

          with some more scientific links.

          There have also been a number of DK diaries on the subject with further links.

  •  The Winnemem Wintu are right. (0+ / 0-)

    We do know wgat will happen if Frankenfish - which will be farmed - escape from their fatprms into the wild; they'll take over from the native Chinook and Coho, especially the Chinook.  We know this because this is what unmodified Atlantic salmon do now. A big release from a farm several years ago was cause for the governor to immediatelky declare open season, unlimited catch on Atlantic salmon, and Washington state's fishers obligingly cleaned up the problem in a few days.

    There is a very grave danger posed by accidental release of the Frankenfish into the wild, a danger to an already endangered ir threatened fish (depending on which salmon populations we're discussing). The indigenous peoples around salmon waterways have sacred relationhips to the salmon, and they have a right to continue these relationships.

    I have been a supporter of groups working against the Frankenfish for years. We live on, and are thus the stewards and caretakers of, the headwaters of the main tributary of a salmon stream. We take this sacred responsibilty very seriously. Part of this must necessarily involve activism to protect the environment for salmonids, the ones the Mother herself placed here.

    Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

    Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

    by Kitsap River on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 02:01:05 PM PST

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