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STATE OFFICIAL: WASHINGTON COMMERCIAL OYSTERS SAFE; PENDING NETWORK TV STORY COULD NEEDLESSLY SCARE PUBLIC

 STATE OFFICIAL: WASHINGTON COMMERCIAL OYSTERS SAFE;
 PENDING NETWORK TV STORY COULD NEEDLESSLY SCARE PUBLIC
 OLYMPIA, Wash., Feb. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Washington State Public Lands Commissioner Brian Boyle today expressed strong support for the Washington oyster industry -- the nation's largest -- and voiced concern about the potential airing of a news report questioning the safety of consuming shellfish. Boyle has been informed that "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather" is planning to air such a segment on Monday evening, Feb. 10.
 "CBS News is producing a news story that raises questions about the safety of consuming shellfish and calls for mandatory warning labels on all commercially gathered shellfish," said Boyle. "I am urging CBS News to be responsible in its reporting and not whip up unnecessary fear -- or undermine the public's confidence -- about the commercial shellfish industry.
 "A real potential exists for Dan Rather's story to unfairly implicate commercially harvested Washington clams and oysters," said Boyle. "There is no evidence of toxins being found in commercial shellfish harvests. Yet, Dan Rather and CBS News are getting ready to air a story that is based, in part, on extremely isolated incidents including that of a West Coast woman who recreationally harvested razor clams."
 In a letter to Erik Sorensen, executive producer of "The CBS Evening News," Boyle called attention to the extensive testing and monitoring of commercially harvested shellfish in Washington state. His letter explained that "since first becoming aware of the presence of domoic acid on the West Coast, the Washington State Department of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have conducted extensive testing of a variety of seafood products. There has been no evidence of domoic acid in commercially harvested clams or oysters in Washington state." Domoic acid is a naturally occurring organism which can cause Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) in humans.
 "In the state of Washington, we have seen the damage that can occur to an important regional industry as the result of a one-sided and misleading report that unnecessarily frightens the public," Boyle said. "This brings back memories of the devastating economic effects the Alar scare had on Washington's apple industry -- from which it is still trying to recover.
 "Dan Rather's newscast is being promoted and advertised with the slogan, 'Eye on America,'" said Boyle. "Monday evening, Washington state will have an eye on Dan Rather."
 Boyle is the statewide elected official responsible for the Washington Department of Natural Resources. He is responsible for the management of two million acres of aquatic land as well as three million acres of forested and agricultural land throughout the State of Washington.
 -0- 2/9/92
 /CONTACT: Peter B. Summerville of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, 206-935-2716 (today) or 206-753-5330 (Monday- Friday)/ CO: Washington State Department of Natural Resources ST: Washington IN: FOD SU:


GK-SO -- NYSU003 -- 8058 02/09/92 13:19 EST
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Date:Feb 9, 1992
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