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Group: Latest Warnings About Mercury in Fish Completely Ignore New Science

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today the nonprofit Center for Consumer Freedom said that in light of more recent and reliable science, the public should ignore the call for wide-ranging public warnings about mercury in fish issued by the Eighth International Conference on Mercury as a Global Pollutant. During the seven months since the 2006 summit, three new breakthrough scientific reports about the health implications of eating fish have made concerns about mercury mentioned in the conference's "Madison Declaration" largely irrelevant.

  • In February 2007, The Lancet (The United Kingdom's most prestigious medical journal) published research from the U.S. National Institutes of Health demonstrating a clear benefit to children whose mothers ate large amounts of fish while pregnant. Researchers wrote that they could find "no evidence to lend support to the warnings of the U.S. advisory that pregnant women should limit their seafood consumption." Pregnant women in the study who ate the most fish -- regardless of mercury levels -- had children with the highest IQ's.

  • In October 2006, a landmark Harvard study published in JAMA (the Journal of the American Medical Association) concluded that the health benefits of fish "greatly outweigh the risks," including those from trace amounts of mercury.

  • Also in October 2006, the U.S. government's Institute of Medicine warned in a comprehensive report that a "spillover effect" from one-size-fits-all fish warnings could deny most consumers the health benefits of seafood consumption. Government advisories about mercury in seafood only apply to a small segment of the population. And in view of the Lancet study (above), even these limited messages may be ill-advised.

"Organizers of the mercury conference should have done more homework before publishing anything," said Center for Consumer Freedom Director of Research David Martosko. "Traces of mercury in fish are insignificant compared to the health benefits of eating seafood. Governments should be encouraging everyone, including pregnant women, to eat more fish. Period. Given recent scientific findings, any other message is irresponsible and -- literally -- last year's news."

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