Huffington Post Regurgitates Activist Report Unchecked

Over at the Huffington Post Green Blog, Carl Safina has a post up parroting the worst of the talking points from a recent Environmental Working Group [EWG] report designed to scare consumers away from nutritious and crucially healthy canned tuna.

Safina echoes oft-reputed claims from EWG, including that women who plan to become pregnant, women who are breastfeeding, and young children should limit their consumption of albacore tuna to no more than 6 ounces per week.

This advice is contrary to the international scientific consensus, including the conclusions of the United States Department Agriculture, the Institute of Medicine, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, working in conjunction the World Heath Organization.

Safina points to he calls recent data collected by EWG showing that 10 of the 35 most popular seafoods contained mercury levels that could pose a health risk to childbearing aged women if eaten twice weekly.

What Safina doesnt point out is that these fish recommendations were derived in part using the work of environmental activist Timothy Fitzgerald of the Environmental Defense Fund, who has previously admitted that he makes no effort to consider and balance seafood health benefits pregnant women miss out on in his work, a highly unusual methodology for a researcher claiming to give out health advice.

Perhaps recognizing that his warnings rest on a biased and one-sided argument based on nothing more than speculation, Safina backtracks somewhat by claiming that how much mercury is too much for non-childbearing women and men still remains under debate. Which, of course, doesnt stop him from immediately projecting the worst when he then claims that anyone who eats large amounts of fish or frequently consumes high-mercury fish could potentially face health risks.

While Safina uses mealy-mouthed language couched with hedges such as could and potentially, scientists who are studying the issue of seafood and health have been firm in their conviction that eating fish is unambiguously a net positive. Researchers at Harvard determined low seafood consumption is the second-biggest dietary contributor to preventable death in the U.S., and a long-term study of children whose mothers cut back on seafood during pregnancy had significantly lower IQs. With Americans eating just 15 lbs of seafood a year compared with 70+ pounds of poultry and 100+ pounds of beef, the reality is we dont eat enough to be healthy let alone get sick.

The science is clear: fish are a healthy and vital part of your diet. The sooner the media starts listening to nutrition scientists instead of environmental zealots, the sooner we can start undoing the massive public-health harm these eco-lifestyle zealots have perpetrated.