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Oyster farm. (Photo: Luis Eustaquio)

Laboratory for toxin detection to help oyster farmers

  (MEXICO, 3/1/2011)

Oyster producers from Baja California plan to begin construction of a laboratory which specializes in aquaculture health and safety this year with the aim of fully equiping it by 2012, in order to begin testing for toxins in shellfish.

With this new lab, the industry hopes to solve many of the problems faced by farmers due to the lack of certified facilities.

According to Sergio Guevara, a representative for the State Board of Aquaculture Health and Safety, the time it takes the laboratories of the National Health, Food Safety and Quality Service (Senasica) to confirm a false positive has adverse effects on producers of Baja California.

The sector is being damaged, as in many cases, aquaculture farms are closed by mistake, reports Ensenada.net.

To determine a closure, the authority takes 10 days, and to authorize the re-opening it takes another 10 days, as laboratories are saturated with work.

The new initiative will be funded with MXN 5 million (USD 411,800), though initially only MXN 1 million (USD 82,360) will be used.

In the state of Baja California, there are four bodies distributing water licenses: Bahía Todos Santos, Bahía de San Quintín, Laguna Manuela and laguna Guerrero Negro - as well as three more to certify - Bahía Soledad, San Felipe and Bahía de los Ángeles-.

In addition, Isla de Cedros has begun the process of certifying its waters.

Guevara recalled that this summer, two water bodies closed in Guerrero Negro and San Quintín, due to false positives. This measure involved a ban on cultivation and harvesting of shellfish, especially clams and oysters, resulting in significant economic damage and work in the area.

A false positive occurs when a method of analysis yields the result that there are toxins when in fact there are none.

Due to the occurrence of false positives, the European Union (EU) decided to change the test method from mice to a chemical approuch, but Mexico still uses biological methods.

Furthermore, within weeks, a new biotoxin laboratory will begin operating after the signing of an agreement with the Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education of Ensenada (CICESE), which required an investment of MXN 6 million (USD 494,150).

"For us, if someone that consumes our products gets sick, it would be suicidal for the industry mainly because exports to the United States, California, Nevada and other places would have problems which would create severe consequences," said Guevara.

Related articles:

-
Government appeals against chemical method for biotoxins
-
Chemical method replaces biological process for detecting marine biotoxins


By Analia Murias
[email protected]
www.fis.com

 


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