NFI calls out Vogue on mercury article

Published on
May 18, 2009

The seafood industry constantly is constantly battling misinformation on mercury in seafood. But the misinformation popped up in an unusual place this month — a women’s fashion magazine.

The May issue of Vogue featured the article “Mercury Rising,” which focused on the writer’s concerns about eating seafood high mercury.

Studies show an “avalanche [of] danger” linked to mercury in seafood, said Bronwyn Garrity, the author. “Every new study links [mercury in seafood] to something I don’t want: joint pain, hearing and vision problems, memory loss, fertility problems, immune disorders, gum disease, gastrointestinal disorders, lowered IQ and developmental problems in children and even heart attacks.”

In fact, the opposite is true — consuming seafood provides numerous health benefits — and the article is completely inaccurate, contended the National Fisheries Institute.

“The article makes a mockery of [health reporting] and fails in almost every journalistic respect,” wrote NFI VP Mary Anne Hansan in a letter to Abigail Walch, senior editor of Vogue.

Hansan asked Walch to issue a correction clearing up the misinformation in the article and to have the article completely rewritten. Vogue has not agreed to correct the article.

As a result, NFI is running ads on MediaBistro.com and on other online media critic Web sites to call attention to the problem of mercury-in-seafood reporting in general.

“We haven’t been able to get any satisfaction by going to Vogue, so we are going to shed light on this problem that we see with the journalist community as a whole,” said NFI spokesperson Gavin Gibbons.

Although more women’s magazines are writing about seafood and health, most are getting the story wrong and focusing on the dangers associated with mercury in seafood, said Gibbons. Most are not writing about the new studies showing that Americans’ health would improved if they consume more seafood.

“The Vogue feature is just the latest in a disturbing trend being seen in women’s magazines recently — like O and Self — where reporters have ignored basic journalism standards and instead relied exclusively on nutritional advice from radical environmental activists like Oceana and Environmental Defense Fund,” said an NFI statement.

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