Closed Doors, Closed Minds


Imagine the outrage that would have resulted if, in response to the foot-and-mouth epidemic of 2001, British governmental and cattle farming organizations had reacted by holding secretive, closed-door meetings that barred environmental groups and other consumer advocates.

That, in essence, was what Chile did last week when it held two days of workshops to deal with its raging epidemic of infectious salmon anemia (ISA), a highly contagious disease often called aquaculture's answer to foot-and-mouth. The only "cure" for ISA is to kill all the fish in affected farms and deposit them on the nearest landfill. Isolated instances of the diseaase first hit Chile's net pens this summer, soon escalating to a massive outbreak that resulted in the slaughter of more than one million fish.

It's worth noting that Chile might have avoided the ISA crisis had it reduced the density of fish in pens and taken a few other measures long advocated by the very groups it decided to shut out of its workshops.

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