Omega-3 fatty acids have long been celebrated by doctors and dieticians as key to a healthy heart and a sharper brain. In the last few decades, that promise has been encapsulated in one of America’s most popular dietary supplements. Omega-3s are today a multi-billion dollar business, and sales are still growing apace–even as recent medical studies caution that the promise of omega-3s may not be what it first appeared.
But a closer look at the omega-3 sensation reveals something much deeper and more troubling. The miracle pill is only the latest product of the reduction industry, a vast, global endeavor that over the last century has boiled down trillions of pounds of marine life into animal feed, fertilizer, margarine, and dietary supplements. The creatures that are the victims of that industry seem insignificant to the untrained eye, but turn out to be essential to the survival of whales, penguins, and fish of all kinds, including many that we love to eat.
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