Got Mercury

Got Mercury is a campaign launched by the Turtle Island Restoration Network, an activist organization that goes heavy on the rhetoric while skimping on the science. The campaign’s website explains: “Because of the ubiquitous [sic] nature of mercury in our environment and because federal and state public health agencies are not doing enough to raise public awareness and protect the public from mercury, we developed”

Got Mercury has launched an array of desperate stunts in an attempt to frighten people into cutting back on seafood. During one holiday season, Got Mercury called on charities not to distribute donations of canned tuna to poor people over groundless mercury fears. They’ve also publicized a bogus report warning about mercury in tuna sandwiches served in school lunches.

Governmental agencies have also grown wise to Got Mercury’s ways.  In a demonstration of just how little credibility has, the FDA rejected every point the activists raised in their petition to pass “more stringent” regulations on mercury in seafood. As the FDA noted in its official response:

  • “You present no evidence that mercury levels in ocean fish are rising or will rise as a consequence of increasing mercury in the ocean…”
  • “Your petition failed to provide sufficient data or information, such as specifics relating to actual injuries within the general population or estimates of risk…”
  • “The petition does not identify any ‘case studies’ of possible individual injuries from prenatal exposure to methylmercury in the U.S., nor are we aware of any…”
  • “In your petition, you devote considerable attention to canned tuna…The FAO/WHO assessment estimates that these products are beneficial — and thus pose no reasonable possibility of injury…”

It’s clear that environmental activists are not health experts. And when reporters quote activists on health concerns, they’re frequently wrong — especially on seafood.

For example, Got Mercury grossly exaggerates the hypothetical risk of mercury present in commercial seafood. These trace amounts of mercury occur naturally – the byproduct of thermal vents and volcanoes on the ocean floor — and have been present in seafood for millions of years. In fact, the infinitesimal amount of mercury in seafood is the same as it was 90 years ago, according to the FDA.

The fish Americans order at their favorite restaurant or buy from their local grocer is safe to eat. Ten species of fish account for close to 90 percent of the seafood we eat in the United States, and all have low levels of mercury.

For years, medical organizations, government agencies, and independent experts have stressed that eating a variety of fish at least two to three times per week is essential for optimal brain, heart and eye health in children and adults alike. Doctors, nutritionists, and credentialed researchers — who use peer-reviewed science to shape their recommendations — all agree that the real risk when it comes to seafood is not eating enough of it.

The activists ask: Got Mercury? Here’s a better question: Got Facts?