I am writing in regard to the full-page article ‘Deep Bay’s seaweed harvest’ (The NEWS, Jan. 23, p. A5).
Whilst this was a comprehensive article, it unfortunately did not mention anything about the detrimental health problems that can be caused by the carrageenen found in the seaweed.
So what is this carrageenan all about? Well now, seaweed, red seaweed in particular, was found to have this natural compound, whilst left alone does not cause any harm. However, since the 1930s scientists and eminent medical professionals have been carrying out studies and became concerned when tests carried out on laboratory animals after they had ingested carageenan showed signs of gastrointestinal disease, intestinal lesions and ulcerative colitis-like disease and possible colon cancer.
Animal studies have repeatedly shown that food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations and even malignant tumors.
Carrageenan is used to stabilize processed foods such as ice cream, cream cheese, sauces, soups, whipping cream, chocolate milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, squeezable yogurt marketed to children etc. anything that needs to be thickened and stay that way. It is also in processed meats from the deli to hold the food together.
My main concern is ice cream containing carrageenan and how much of it is consumed by children. Just think of it — every day hundreds of children eating hundreds and hundreds of bucketfuls of ice cream and lots of yogurt. I am very worried that the children of today will grow up suffering from very serious digestive tract problems and pose a huge burden on the health system.
My other concern is for the environmental degradation of the beaches and shorelines here in Deep Bay/Bowser. Vehicles are not permitted on the beaches, yet tractors have been allowed to drive up and down harvesting the seaweed, destroying the ecology of the beaches where fish called sand lance lay their eggs. These eggs and the surviving individuals are part of the food chain. The fish feed the salmon, which feed us. If we lose these fish, we lose a whole lot more of our environment.
I urge the Ministry of Agriculture to revoke the licences now in existence before any further damage is caused to the beaches and surrounding environment and implement a moratorium now.