MARCH 10, 2017, SEATTLE, WA – Tomorrow, Saturday March 11, an estimated 200 people will gather at the Longhouse on the UW campus, known as the Intellectual House, for a community event about the threats of genetically engineered (GE) salmon. Organized by Community Alliance for Global Justice and the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project, the event will highlight the importance of wild salmon as a cultural and ecological keystone species in the region. Speakers will discuss the opposition of Coast Salish tribes to the introduction of GE salmon, as well as the impacts to Native treaty rights.
In 2015, the FDA approved the first genetically engineered animal to enter the U.S. food market: AquaBounty Inc.’s “AquaAdvantage” salmon. The FDA’s claim that GE salmon is safe for human consumption is disputed due to lack of sufficient evidence. Furthermore, GE salmon was approved without adequate environmental risk assessment to wild fish habitat. This push to produce and distribute GE salmon patented by a transnational biotech corporation is deeply relevant to Northwest tribal communities, whose treaty-protected fishing rights are threatened by the promise of increased production efficiency. In 2014, the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians passed a resolution opposing the introduction of GE salmon. Following the FDA’s approval of AquaBounty’s GE salmon, the Quinault Tribe and 11 other plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the FDA. Other plaintiffs include groups representing fishing, conservation, and consumer interests.
“The Coast Salish people have organized their lives around salmon for thousands of years,” explains Valerie Segrest, Muckleshoot Tribal member and Native Foods Educator. “We see them as our greatest teachers, giving their lives for us to have life. Corporate ownership of such a cultural keystone is a direct attack on our identity and the legacy our ancestors have left us.”
Speaking to the lawsuit, Steve Mashuda, a lawyer with Earthjustice, the environmental law firm that filed the lawsuit against the FDA, says, “This case is about protecting our fisheries and ocean ecosystems, but it’s also about the future of our food. The wild salmon runs that sustain all of us have enough to contend with already: they can’t afford the risks posed by another manufactured threat to their survival.”
WHAT: Wild Salmon Cook-out: Stand with Northwest Tribes to Stop GE Fish! FREE event open to the public. Speakers, traditional cooking demonstration, lunch and a salmon tasting.
WHEN: Saturday, March 11, 10:30am – 1:30pm
WHERE: wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House, University of Washington, 4249 Whitman Court, Seattle
The program includes a welcoming song by Justice Bill of the Muckleshoot, storytelling by Roger Fernandes of the Lower Elwah Klallam, traditional fish cooking by Louie Ungaro of the Muckleshoot, a performance by the Canoe Families, and speakers on topics from the cultural significance of wild salmon, to updates on the lawsuit and campaign. For the full program, directions, and more, please visit CAGJ’s event web-page.
Valerie Segrest and Steve Mashuda will be available for interviews during the event. We look forward to sparking convivial conversation and community engagement around this important environmental, food justice, and Indigenous Rights issue.
Sponsored by Community Alliance for Global Justice, Loki Fish Co, Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project and Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, with generous support from the Muckleshoot Tribe Charity Fund Grant Program.