HALIFAX — A leading national expert on food safety issues says that critics who focus on obscure, theoretical food risks actually damage the overall safety of the food supply and individual health. This happens because industry and government then divert valuable resources to combating minor risks, and industry efforts to manage overall risk appropriately are trivialised. Because of intense consumer interest, food industries, especially poorly understood ones like aquaculture, must actively engage the public in discussions of both benefits and risks associated with them.

These are just some of the remarks that Professor Douglas Powell, Director of the Agri-Food Risk Management and Communication Project of the University of Guelph, will make at a conference called “How to Farm the Seas: The Science, Economics and Politics of Aquaculture“. Given recent controversies around the use of genetically modified organisms and therapeutic agents such as antibiotics in aquaculture, Professor Powell’s remarks are sure to generate debate that will reach beyond the conference itself.

A joint initiative of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies (AIMS) and the Canadian Aquaculture Institute (CAI), How to Farm the Seas will take place September 28-30, 2000, at the Rodd Brudenell River Resort, Montague, PEI.

According to Professor Powell, “A consistent theme in all of my talks is that producers of anything — including fish — need to examine any and all technologies carefully and work to garner whatever benefits a specific technology can bring while actively minimising risks. The requirement is an active, rigorous and robust risk management system, whether by government or industry or both, that requires the best science, management and communication.”

How to Farm the Seas: The Science, Economics, and Politics of Aquaculture is the first initiative of a joint project by AIMS and CAI to improve both public policy and public understanding with respect to aquaculture on the east coast and nationally. The conference will bring together a team of leading national and international experts to clarify both the strengths and weaknesses of aquaculture, and to discuss the basis for a sensible public policy to govern the industry.

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For further information, please contact:

Brian Lee Crowley, President, AIMS: 902-499-1998, BrianLeeCrowley@aims.ca

Gerry Johnson, Professor, Atlantic Veterinary College, UPEI: 902-566-0853, gjohnson@upei.ca