Filed Under: Food Scares Seafood

Anti-Fish Activists Endangering Public Health?

We’ve never been big fans of activists who hawk mercury-in-fish fears. They’re perfect examples of agenda-driven extremists who keep flogging their message despite what science has to say. Over the course of the last six months, for instance, three separate studies (click here, here, and here) have demonstrated that mercury fear mongers are, well, all wet. This avalanche of science begs the inescapable conclusion that activists warning us about “toxic tuna” should be called more than just “misinformed” — they deserve to be called dangerous.As we told you earlier this month, a landmark study published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet found a strong connection between pregnant women’s fish consumption and their children’s IQ levels. (The women who ate the most fish — mercury and all — had the smartest kids.)In the wake of that finding, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer profiled a few moms who are having second thoughts about their decision to cut back on fish during their pregnancies. Most hadn’t bought into the activist-induced anxiety wholesale — they were just a bit “cautious” in the face of conflicting messages. But, as one mother who decided to "avoid everything that swam" tells the Post-Intelligencer, that caution could be costly:

[Lori] Heller, a 39-year-old Seattle mother … wonders if her seafood abstinence during pregnancy has anything to do with her 15-month-old son not yet walking. "(It’s) really frustrating," Heller said. "Here you think you’re doing something good, and then you find out you’re not."

As more Americans get the message that fish is “brain food” (and that goes for their unborn children as well), we should expect to hear more personal stories like Heller’s. Moms who swore off fish during their pregnancies should be upset. And they should blame the activist groups who drove them away from the seafood counter.It’s clear that Oceana, the Mercury Policy Project, the Consumers Union of the United States (publisher of the toaster-rating Consumer Reports magazine), and a growing list of their fellow travelers aren’t responsible health advocates. They should either come up with a good response (or any response) to the mounds of evidence contradicting their “Fear Fish!” campaigns, or call off the dogs entirely. Americans — especially expectant moms — deserve to reap the health benefits of eating seafood in peace.

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