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Outgoing Bush “Health” Officials Rush to Publish New Mercury-in-Fish Review For Seafood Buddies

Mothers and children could be encouraged to eat unsafe levels of mercury-laden tuna and swordfish and never warned about high levels in mercury in fish in response to pro-seafood reports released by Bush’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The shocking proposals were released just days before Bush’s FDA “Health” Commissioners leave for good. See the documents. See the existing advisory. A 90-day public comment period opens Jan 21.

“This is a cruel, desperate attempt by the Bushies to enrich big-business friends, in this case ‘Big Tuna’ by ignoring science at the public’s expense,” said Teri Shore of the GotMercury.org, a project of Turtle Island Restoration Network of Forest Knolls, CA. “If we need to go to Court over this, we are prepared to do so.”

While the FDA claims that the “release of these documents for public comment and peer review do not in any way modify the recommendations set forth in the 2004 advisory on fish consumption,” the agency also stated:

“After public and advisory committee review of these documents are complete, appropriate risk management actions will then be considered on the basis of currently available scientific information.” (underline added)

Base on FDA’s lackluster enforcement of current advisories and its anemic enforcement of mercury testing and monitoring regulations, it seems clear that the agency’s main intent is to open the door to allow the seafood industry to enact even weaker standards.

The FDA’s dash to do the seafood industry’s bidding comes on the heels of actor Jeremy Piven’s collapse from mercury poisoning from eating too mush sushi. The tuna industry also suffered a legal blow when a New Jersey Court found that states were not pre-empted from labeling tuna fish cans with mercury health warnings.

Mercury in the form of methylmercury is a potent neurotoxin that can cause slow growth and lowered IQ, brain and kidney damage, cancer, and an increased risk of heart disease, according to numerous studies. As many as 630,000 or 15 percent of newborns in the U.S. are at risk each year of neurological defects due to mercury contamination, according to the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Most large-species tuna and swordfish sold in the U. S. typically exceeds the FDA’s for mercury in commercial fish at 1 part per million mercury – which is double the amount allowed by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency for recreational fish and the governments of Canada, Japan and the European Union. The FDA has never developed a “safe level” for mercury blood levels in people.

The FDA standard is more than 30 years old and is based on bad science and industry interference that dates to a 1971 lawsuit between Anderson Seafoods and the FDA. The standard is based almost entirely on faulty field research from a mercury poisoning in Iraq that never established minimal-effect or no-effect levels for mercury exposure. This is documented in the new book “Diagnosis Mercury” by Dr. Jane Hightower of San Francisco.

Gotmercury.org publishes a free online mercury calculator for people to estimate mercury exposure from fish and has worked with the state of California on legal actions to require public warning signs to be posted at seafood restaurants and stores. It advocates for seafood testing for mercury, labeling and the slashing of allowable mercury levels in fish to .5 ppm or less.

Last year, the California State Legislature passed Assembly Joint Resolution 57 authored by Jared Huffman that urged the FDA to take stronger action to warn people about mercury in fish.