Warning for Vietnamese Basa Fish
Since the beginning of 2009, the popularity of Vietnam’s Basa fish has earned the title of one of the most exported seafood items, with approx 264,000 tones shipped globally with an earning of US$600 million (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development).
The Basa fish is also known as Vietnamese Catfish, Mekong River Catfish, Pangasius, Vietnamese River Cobbler, White Catfish and Grey Sole.
This Vietnamese fish is not an oceanic fish, but an industrially farmed fish in the Mekong River. The Basa are known to be fed dead fish remnants and bones, dried ground into a flour substance, manioc and residue from soy and grains. The feed is completely unregulated and most likely to contain other unapproved hazardous drugs, chemicals and hormones, which can also explain the rate of their growth and reproduction which is 4 times faster than growth in nature.
Due to the abnormally large quantity of Basa available, they may be utilised in the production of other food such as imitation crab sticks, fish sticks, fish terrines and pet food.
The Mekong River Basin (Lancang Jiang) originates from central China and travels through Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before draining into the South China Sea. The rising level of pollution in Chinese waterways have been apparent for years, such as discarded toxic waste being released through the pipelines of the city’s major river.
The Mekong River passes through the Yunnan Province area in China. Yunnan Province is known to be a highly industrialised area, large amount of factories are built along the bank which is relevant as the river is full of waste.
In June 2008, Yangzonghai Lake in Yunnan province was found to be polluted with arsenic, affecting water supplies to more than 26,000 people. Investigations found that some companies had released arsenic into the lake (China Daily).
The WWF (World Wildlife for Nature) researchers also cautioned that pollutants found in the Mekong water could affect the health of millions of humans who are dependent on the river for potable water and as source of fish farming.
Contamination in the Mekong River includes toxic waste with extreme levels of poisons and bacteria. Also heavy metals such as lead, mercury and chromium are dangerous to health and the environment in excessive levels.
During a recent trip to Thailand’s Golden triangle in February 2010 Wayne Sedawie took this photo taken during a boat ride on the Mekong River of a nearly abandoned fish farming village.
When he enquired why there were not many fishermen, the guide replied “Water No Good”.
He was informed that since China dammed the river upstream that the natural cycle of the Mekong River had changed and it was not flushing like it was in the past.
The guide also informed him that it has been common to see bodies wash down this river from Myanmar.
He was not joking, other fisherman agreed with him.
The river was dark and muddy and the air was filled with smog. Smog now fills the air for 6 months of the year till the monsoon rains come and clean the air. There is no blue sky for 6 months as smog from China and smoke from burning off vegetation fills the sky and is not pleasant to breathe.
In the past this event would last one month but in the last 10 years, each year is getting worse and the smog is on the increase.
Wayne asked, what happens when the monsoonal rains arrive?
They wash pollutants into the river, so contaminated water now flows to Vietnam where Basa is bred.
The Mekong river is not a fast flowing river since China built a dam upstream and is now a polluted river, this is due to the heavily polluted waterways full of toxic sludge and carcinogens dumped from the industrial zones, killing and contaminating all the fish in the river and agricultural surroundings, whilst endangering the lives of people as the river provide drinking water for the capital and its surrounding provinces.
Wayne Sedawie owned a factory in Vietnam from 1999 to 2004 and on one visit to the Mekong delta he visited a small village that had ten babies under one year old and two were born deformed.
When he enquired how strange it was to see 2 deformed babies in small group, he was informed the deformations were caused by “war problem”.
They obviously meant the chemical spraying of Vietnam during the war, but all our research states that this chemical does not stay for long in the land and dissolves out in water. If that was the case why are there still so many deformed babies in these areas that were sprayed?
Is the problem now in their genes or are the tests accurate?
If you read the tests, they were done in laboratories not in muddy river waters with lot of mud, if sprayed foliage fell into the river and was covered by mud it could still be active, so if bacteria or small fish eat the they could in turn be eaten by cat fish which is a bottom feeder so is used to scrounging on the bottom of river and this fish could carry traces of this toxic chemical.
I see no records of tests carried out in the actual river to confirm this.
Reference for tetrachlorodibenzodioxin in PDF form: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/members/1973/005/05033.PDF
I DO NOT FEED VIETNAMESE FISH TO MY FAMILY! Do you want to take the risk with your family?
During the war in Vietnam (between 1961 and 1971) the U.S. military sprayed an estimated 44 million Litres of Agent Orange to destroy crops, remove foliage and disrupt agricultural food production as an effort to deprive the enemy cover in the Vietnam forests. Report states that the chemical was sprayed over 10% of Southern Vietnam area.
No country in the world has had chemicals sprayed over such a vast area.
Agent Orange contains a contaminant TCDD (2, 3, 7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzodioxin) which is considered to be the most potent of the dioxins. Dioxins are by-products of specific chemical reactions.
TCDD potentially causes indirect DNA damage through induction or activation of other DNA damaging compounds in the body.
Certain chemicals in the Agent Orange are also responsible for numerous health effects, including cancer, skin disease, and neurological disease. According to a congressional report 2.1 to 4.8 million people were directly exposed to Agent Orange. The most frightening aspect of this is that the disease and deformities from the chemical has spanned across generations.
Numerous programs have been set to decontaminate affected areas and provide care for victims. If this chemical has such a devastating impact, this definitely played an important part on the degradation of the surrounding environment i.e. agriculture and fish-life in nearby water supplies in the area. It’s not known how long exactly that this chemical can reside in the body and continually alter DNA and cause deformities.