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Mutated Trout Raise New Concerns Over Selenium

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Food Safety Research Center page, and our Fish and Sustainability page, and our Environment and Climate Resource Center page.
It was the two-headed baby trout the got everyone's attention.

Photographs of variously mutated brown trout were relegated to an appendix of a study commissioned by the J.R. Simplot Company, whose mining operations have polluted nearby creeks in southern Idaho. The trout were the offspring of local fish caught in the wild that that had been spawned in the labratory. Some had two heads; others had facial, fin and egg deformities.

Yet the company's report concluded that it would be safe to allow selenium - a metal byproduct of mining that is toxic to fish and birds - to remain in the area creeks at higher levels than are now permitted under regulatory guidlines. The company is seeking a judgment to the effect from the Environmental Protection Agency. After receiving a draft report that ran hundreds of pages, the E.P.A. review described the research as 'comprehensive' and seemed open to it's findings, which supported the selenium variance for Simplot's Smoky Canyon mine.

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