“CAGJ Nurtures Food Justice Activism”

CAGJ Intern Lisa Colligan on Why We Must Take Action against GE Salmon

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Dear readers,

My name is Lisa Colligan, and CAGJ has become a home for my grassroots activism. After co-organizing CAGJ’s RiseUp! Summer School 2020, I joined CAGJ and Uprooted and Rising’s joint Block Corporate Salmon campaign in solidarity with indigenous Salmon defenders. We are fighting the imminent release of genetically engineered salmon into the U.S. food market and the passage of the AQUAA Act.

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AquaBounty Technologies Inc. has been creating AquaAdvantage salmon, for the past few decades (to learn more, watch CAGJ’s short film, Salmon People). In November 2020, a federal court declared that the FDA violated the Endangered Species Act and National Environmental Policy Act when it approved G.E. salmon for human consumption in 2015. Now, the FDA must re-do its environmental assessment of G.E. salmon. In the meantime, AquaBounty is legally allowed to sell its fish, and is planning on introducing it to the U.S. market by the end of 2020.

The AQUAA Act, introduced in 2018 by Roger Wicker (R-Miss), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and sponsored heavily by agriculture giant Cargill, would open federal waters to open-water net pen aquaculture 12 to 200 miles off shore. Commercial aquaculture has devastated ocean ecologies; farmed fish species outcompete wild species for resources, nutrient-dense fish waste increases toxicity of waters, and the open-net pens have become a concerning hotspot for disease. Expanding commercial aquaculture through the passage of the AQUAA act will only further strain and fracture our fragile ocean ecosystems.
Using grassroots strategies including direct action, corporate pressure campaigns, and community education, we are urging food service companies, restaurants, politicians, and universities to boycott AquaAdvantage salmon and oppose the AQUAA Act.

Mural painted by Uprooted and Rising & CAGJ on UW campus

Take action today! Please sign our letters to food service companies Aramark and Compass, and make a year-end gift so that CAGJ can continue to organize in solidarity with Northwest tribes against corporations attempting to undermine indigenous food sovereignty!

The Block Corporate Salmon campaign centers and uplifts indigenous knowledge and sovereignty. The corporatization and privatization of our foodways is inherently dependent upon trespassing on indigenous land and waters in order to turn a profit for Global North multinational corporate shareholders. It is time to stop the further displacement and destruction of indigenous lifeways throughout Turtle Island and the world.

You don’t have to look far beyond AquaBounty’s claims of “sustainability” to see that their executive board is filled with Big-Agriculture veterans, or that their angel investor is a lifetime big pharma and biotech investor (who donated thousands of dollars to the Republican Party during the 2020 election season). What lies beneath AquaBounty’s marketing is a phenomenon all too familiar: another corporation vying for power and wealth at the expense of indigenous people and our planet.

As I do this work, I find myself thinking about the painful ironies burdening our Earth. These ironies appear when a system sees a problem of dwindling resources and thinks not, “How can we replenish this?”, but “How can we capitalize this?”

AquaAdvantage salmon are created by combining King Chinook salmon spliced with Atlantic salmon, and ocean pout. Today, some Chinook salmon species are on the Endangered Species list, and most are under threat of Endangerment. I am terrified to envision a future in which this fish- whose same genes were spliced to create AquaAdvantage- go extinct in the wild, while the world feasts on its genetically engineered progeny.

Valerie Segrest is the Muckleshoot activist who inspired CAGJ to take up this campaign. In a recent interview she described the affront G.E. salmon represents to her: “Perhaps the most disturbing part of it all came when I was sharing my thoughts on this with a colleague of mine, and he pointed out that a corporation now owns the DNA of wild Chinook salmon. Someone now owns my ancestral foods’ DNA. I remember that as a spirit-shaking moment and thinking, “How dare you?”

I wonder, where would we be if our government was as dedicated to protecting our fragile ecosystems as it is to protecting corporate interest? 

As an intern with CAGJ, I am fighting G.E. salmon because I believe that we can build a world in which we celebrate, not exploit, the abundance that the land and the water offer us.

Without your support, I would not have CAGJ to nurture my food justice activism. Please make a generous donation today so that CAGJ can continue to train grassroots activists, and mobilize for a more just food system. 

Thank you!

In solidarity,

Lisa Colligan

P.S. Prints and Patches

Represent your solidarity with a 4 x 6 “Respect Tribal Sovereignty” print or canvas patch (like the image below – Block print I created)! Email Lisa at [email protected] or text 206.660.4214. All proceeds go to Save California Salmon.

P.P.S. To learn more about the fight to keep our salmon wild and abundant, please visit:

P.P.P.S. You don’t have to donate to Become a Member! Just fill out this online form – Thank You!
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