Scientists downplay mercury-in-fish health threat


Steven Hedlund

Published on
June 14, 2009

A vast majority of the scientists polled at the ninth annual International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant (ICMGP) in Guiyang, China, last week said methylmercury contamination in seafood is not a serious health threat to consumers.

The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) distributed a survey to all 561 conference participants, who were asked whether they agreed with 11 assertions about mercury and seafood (the response rate was 56 percent).

A vast majority of the scientists agreed that “normal” consumption of seafood does not pose a health risk to adults, children or developing fetuses and that the health benefits associated with omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients in fish outweigh the potential risks of mercury exposure. They also concurred that carefully nuanced public health advisories about mercury in fish are more effective than point-of-purchase warning signs.

“This is groundbreaking news,” said David Martosko, director of research for the Washington, D.C.-based CCF. “The good news about eating fish is finally drowning out the bad news. And we’re hearing it from the real experts.

“Our survey comes at a time when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is finally looking at the tremendous health benefits of eating seafood, not just the hypothetical risks,” added Martosko, who attended the conference and administered the survey. “It appears that most scientists who study mercury agree with this approach.”

For a detailed account of last week’s ICMGP, check out the SeafoodSource interview with Martosko.

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