Researcher at INVEST Incubator Testifies to Widespread Seafood Fraud
William F. Gergits, co-founder of Therion International, LLC, a leader in animal DNA testing and client of the INVEST incubator at Russell Sage College, has stated that on average 50 percent of fish consumers are victims of seafood fraud. Gergits recently testified before a U.S. Senate committee on a pending bill aimed at ensuring tighter controls over the commercial seafood industry in order to reduce deception and fraud.
Gergits’ research confirms that 75 percent of sushi consumers are eating a different type of fish than ordered. Often, one type of fish so closely resembles another in texture and taste, the only way to authenticate what’s on your plate is through DNA testing, which Therion performs at their labs at the Incubator for New Ventures in Emerging Sciences and Technologies (INVEST) on the Russell Sage campus in Troy.
According to Gergits, the seafood scam – although not necessarily harmful, is misleading – and can be costly. It is difficult to determine where the fraud occurs: consumers may be deceived by restaurateurs, distributors, importers or fishermen.
“This particular application of Therion’s work revealing the extent of seafood substitution is significant not only to the consumer, but ultimately for the global-ocean environment,” says Tom Keane, Ph.D., INVEST director and associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Sage.
Therion International is a model client partner for INVEST and for Sage, Keane says. They provide real world and hands-on experience to Sage students through lectures and labs in the college’s program in Forensic Science and serve as adjunct professors in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. “Their network of associates in commercial, government and university based-laboratories is extremely valuable in helping place students in jobs and graduate schools after their graduation.”
Therion has been an INVEST client since September 2010, joining three other companies: Evident Technologies, a world leader in commercializing products for nanomaterials; Greane Tree Technology, a fast-growing software development firm; and the Paper Battery Company, which is developing lightweight energy storage without a footprint.
INVEST is the only incubator of its kind at a women’s college in the country and is the only incubator in New York’s Tech Valley that offers wet chemistry labs dedicated to chemistry-based young companies in the fields of nanotechnology, energy, biotech and pharmaceuticals.
To read more of the recent national news coverage on the fish fraud and Gergits’ testimony: