The announcement comes at a time when scare stories about fish and seafood sold in the US continue to abound. There are reports of people feeling ill after eating lots of fish from the Gulf region.
And in a separate scare there are reports that imported fish have been found to contain banned chemicals, including carcinogenics. The organisation FairWarning said that it had found a number of mainly southern states, including Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas and Florida, had detected these chemicals during fish screening. Almost 80 per cent of fish eaten in the US comes from overseas, much of it from Asian countries like India, Indonesia and Vietnam which have been the subject of scares in the past.
All this adverse publicity is having an affect on the American fish-buying public. Many Americans are still reluctant to buy fish from the Gulf after the BP disaster.
Now some $25-million has been set aside to study claims of Gulf seafood making people feel sick. Workers involved in the Gulf clean-up operation have been among the worst affected. Two will focus on women and one of children, but the research will also involve the general public. It is thought that several thousand people will be looked at.
The academic centres are: Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine which is receiving $6.5 million; the LSU Health Sciences Centre at the New Orleans School of Public Health which gets $3.5 million; , the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston which has a grant of $7.8 million and the University of Florida at Gainesville which is getting $7 million. The four centres will work both separately and together, pooling research and examining many different types of fish.
Footnote: The Florida Agriculture Department has just issued a new report to say tests show that Gulf Seafood is perfectly safe to eat.