GOOD

Uncovering Fictitious and Fraudulent Fish with the Barcodes of Life

Could the DNA barcodes used to expose widespread fish fraud also become a shopper's best friend?


Argentine Roughy, Cherry Snapper, and Salmon Trout only exist at the fish market. They’re fictitious names for fish that don’t exist anywhere, except in the minds of unscrupulous fishmongers. "Grouper" sometimes gets sold as catfish. Gulf shrimp spawn, impossibly, in Thailand. Menhedan masquerade as "Pamplona Sardines in tomato Sauce." Importers traffic in "Leather Jacket Fillets" or "Freedom Cobbler."

Despite growing awareness about the origins of our food, we’re often served a completely different fish species than the ones we order. This comes with economic costs and often means that sustainable seafood you’re eating might not be so sustainable. Global "ichthyologic name-swapping" obfuscates the origins of fish, so contaminated or toxic food causing health problems often can't be traced to the source.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

While I can't say I'm entirely confident that the gusher in the Gulf is finally and completely under control, let's be optimistic for a moment—for sake of analysis—and pretend that all but a few still-seeping barrels have spilled. If it's true that most of the crude that will ultimately spill has spilled already, then we can finally try to get our heads around the magnitude of the disaster.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles

Hesitant vacationers aren't the only ones showing up at gulf beaches this summer. Loggerhead sea turtles will be finishing their nesting period on the beaches of the Florida coast and then heading out to sea, as they have done long before BP ever drilled an oil well. The turtles have already been adversely affected in the wake of the spill (today's Grist post includes accounts of BP employees setting fire to large pools of oil where sea turtles just happened to be living).

However, ambitious measures are being carried out by the Sea Turtle Conservancy to mitigate these threats. Today Grist features an interview with director David Godfrey discussing the unprecedented measures.

Keep Reading Show less
Articles