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Center for Consumer Freedom putting mothers and children at risk with its fishy seafood calculator

Commentary by Buffy Martin Tarbox
GotMercury.org Campaign Coordinator

September 16, 2010 –Being an avid reader, I can spot a fish story from miles away.  And I certainly did spot one as I read a press release from the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) announcing their new and improved seafood calculator.

The HowMuchFish.com calculator encourages fish eaters to essentially ignore public health and government warnings about mercury in seafood.

Per David Martosko, CCF’s Director of Research:  “It’s amazing to see all the health benefits we can get from fish, and how tiny the possible health risks are in comparison.”

To overlook or ignore excessive mercury ingestion while encouraging fish consumption is a disingenuous or even dangerous recommendation, particularly for women and children.  Study after study shows how exposure to mercury can create serious health problems:  memory loss, developmental and learning disorders, vision loss, heart disease and in extreme cases can even lead to death. Mothers and children are most at risk from detrimental and often irreversible health problems related to mercury.

Due to pollution in our oceans and rivers, nearly every species of fish contains some level of mercury, a tidbit CFF would like you to ignore.  GotMercury.org was formed in 2002 to help educate people about the hazards of eating high mercury fish.  Unlike the CFF calculator, the GotMercury.org calculator is based on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mercury levels per fish species.

To combat the fish tales floated by seafood industry backed organizations such as CFF, GotMercury.org and Mercury Policy Project launched a website to expose the misinformation at www.mercuryfactsandfish.org.

When it comes to your health, trust the experts, not shills for the seafood industry.

To get the real story about mercury in seafood, utilize the GotMercury.org calculator, based on FDA and EPA data.   The CCF seafood calculator isn’t even based on government or scientific mercury data, but industry “junk science.”

Don’t rely upon an organization called Center for Consumer Freedom that also attacks Mothers Against Drunk Driving as being too hard on people who drink and drive.  An exact quote from the CFF website:  “To keep the money rolling in, MADD must continue and expand its nationwide guilt trip by admonishing adults not to drink anything before driving.”  And this is the organization that is now trying to convince fish eaters they shouldn’t have an ounce of concern about mercury in seafood.

According to the CCF calculator, I should not worry myself about health problems caused by mercury unless I eat more than 8 five ounce cans of albacore tuna a week! But with the scientifically based GotMercury.org calculator, if I ate eight cans of albacore tuna in one week, I would be exposed to a mercury level of nearly 1000 percent over government guidelines.

U.S. food safety officials were so concerned about health risks from mercury exposure that they removed albacore tuna from the Women, Infants and Children food supplemental packages. Yet CCF’s calculator claims albacore is a perfectly safe fish for a woman to eat.

I suggest CCF should rename their seafood calculator from How Much Fish to How Much Mercury Poisoning.

Don’t take the bait from a group that refuses to make public their funders.

From the CCF website:  “Many of the companies and individuals who support the Center financially have indicated that they want anonymity as contributors.”

Would you seriously trust your health to a group funded by anonymous donors?

For an unbiased and scientifically based seafood calculator offered by a completely transparent public health project, visit www.gotmercury.org