"There is good science in the campaign of course. All campaigns at the David Suzuki Foundation begin with good science."
- David Suzuki, May 2002
April 16, 2012
For nearly five years, I have tried to inquire about your apparent involvement in marketing Alaskan wild fish by "demarketing" the competition: farmed fish, especially farmed salmon. I have sent 13 open letters to you since May of 2007. The body of this letter is the same, almost word for word, as the letter that I sent to you two years ago, on February 3, 2010.
By way of background, here are the two papers that I wrote in the spring of 2010:
My main questions are the same as they were in my open letter of February 3, 2010:
1. American Funding
According to my calculations, the David Suzuki Foundation has had total revenues of at least $81 million (2000 - 2010). My calculations show that the David Suzuki Foundation has received at least 30 U.S. grants from U.S. foundations for over $100,000 each. The total value of these U.S. grants was nearly $CAN 13 million. Specifically, my questions are:
- What is the origin of the $25 million that the David Suzuki has reported to the Canada Revenue Agency as unspecified income from "other sources?" How much of that originated directly from the American foundations or indirectly, through Tides Canada?
- Where did the David Suzuki Foundation get $2 million that it granted (2000-2002) to First Nations? How much of that originated from American foundations?
- Is the brochure, "Why You Shouldn't Eat Farmed Salmon," one of the "tools" of the "Strategy for Market-Intervention Tools to Conserve Marine Fisheries," funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation? U.S. tax returns show that the Packard foundation granted $762,600 to the David Suzuki Foundation for Pacific Salmon Forests, the program that produced this brochure.
2. False Reporting of Research Findings
- Why did you falsely report that B.C. farmed salmon is heavily contaminated with PCBs and other toxins? This claim was based on a study of only four farmed salmon (Easton et al., 2001). Mercury levels were actually higher in the wild salmon, not in the farmed. Studies - including your own - show that farmed salmon has less than 3 percent of what Health Canada and the U.S. Food and Drug Agency consider to be the tolerable level for PCBs in fish.
- Why did you falsely report that your research shows that sea lice originating from salmon farms cause high levels of mortality among juvenile salmon in the wild? To the best of my knowledge, sea lice levels at salmon farms were never measured in your research. Sea lice are found on many species of wild fish and there's no way to tell whether they originated from salmon farms or from wild fish. It follows that your claims that research shows that sea lice originating from salmon farms cause high levels of juvenile salmon mortality in the wild, and put them at risk of extinction, are false. And yet, in the wake of extensive bad press - generated in large part by the David Suzuki Foundation and the campaigns with which it is involved - a "war on fish farmers" was declared and more than 20,000 people signed Alexandra Morton 's petition to close salmon farms. Millions of tax-payers' dollars have been spent on sea lice instead of other priorities.
3. Bad Press About Farmed Salmon
Did the David Suzuki Foundation deliberately manufacture controversy over salmon farming as part of the "antifarming campaign" and the "Context Setting" of Seafood Choices, the Packard foundation's "Market Intervention" strategy? To put it bluntly, did you sway consumers away from farmed fish, especially farmed salmon, because this serves the purposes of your American funders?
Did your foundation deliberately generate hundreds of negative media stories about sea lice as a way to turn consumers and government away from aquaculture?
If aquaculture were to develop in Canada, it would pose fierce competition to Alaskan commercial fisheries. Unfortunately, its too cold to farm fish in most of Alaska.
Considering that the David Suzuki Foundation got funding for sea lice research from the same American foundation (the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation) that funded an "antifarming campaign," involving "science messages" and "earned media," and that your sea lice researchers at the University of Alberta had a "research partnership" with the SeaWeb, the same organization that was funded to co-ordinate the "antifarming campaign," it seems to me that that the sea lice research itself and the bad press that the David Suzuki Foundation has generated about sea lice is is part and parcel of the "science messages" and the "earned media" of this marketing campaign.
Shortly after I began to inquire about the role of Alaskan marketing strategies in the campaign against aquaculture, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation quietly re-wrote its grant for the "antifarming campaign," and three other grants for a total of $3.6 million.
Since I appealed to American foundations to please call off their campaign against Canadian aquaculture, the two biggest U.S. funders of this campaign have backed off. The Packard foundation paid Living Oceans Society $125,000 to "phase out" the Farmed and Dangerous campaign and the Pew Charitable Trusts has said that it is no longer funds its campaign to "reform" aquaculture (the Pure Salmon campaign). However, no amends have yet been made for the false information and the widespread negative public opinion that stems from the hundreds of negative media stories that these campaigns generated over the years.
In the interest of fairness, I appeal to you, Dr. Suzuki, to please tell the whole truth about your American funding and your actual findings with regards to research on PCBs in farmed salmon, and sea lice. In particular, please clarify that contrary to your false claims, the actual findings of studies partially funded and widely publicized by the David Suzuki Foundation:
- Do NOT show and never did show that farmed salmon is high in PCBs
- Do NOT show and never did show that sea lice originating from salmon farms cause high levels of mortality among juvenile salmon in the wild and put their populations at risk of extinction.
Lastly, I wish to clarify that contrary to the insinuations that the David Suzuki Foundation has made, I am in no way involved with nor supported by the salmon farming industry. As I have acknowledged all along, years ago I tried to get support from several salmon farming companies but apart from the two consultancies that I did in 2007, I have not had any support from the aquaculture industry. I was paid $17,750 for the consultancies that I did in 2007. Since then, I have done all of my research and writing on my own, on my own nickel.
Recognizing that aquaculture avoids the worst risks of commercial fisheries (over-fishing and by-catch), my hope is that there will be a breakthrough for aquaculture in Canada, especially in some of the poorest areas of our country. I can think of nothing better to hit the re-set button on public opinion about Canadian aquaculture than for you, Dr. Suzuki, to acknowledge that some of the claims that you and your foundation have made about high levels of PCBs in farmed salmon, and about sea lice from salmon farms putting wild salmon at risk of extinction, are false.
Please see also:
- Open Letters to David Suzuki (13 letters since 2007)
- My surprise meeting with David Suzuki, June 2010 (when he told me to "f**k off")
- 16 press releases and web-pages quietly removed from the web-site of the David Suzuki Foundation, last archived Feb. 3 & 4, 2010, according to internet archives
- Quietly Removed: Why did the David Suzuki Foundation removed its brochure titled, "Why You Shouldn't Eat Farmed Salmon," on Feb. 3, 2010?