Greater risks in refraining from fish

February 5, 2009
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RE "PIVEN case reinforces mercury warnings" (Op-ed, Jan. 26): Scientists who address a public health issue have an obligation to be well-versed in the latest research.

On Jan. 21, the Food and Drug Administration released a landmark, peer-reviewed draft report that exhaustively weighs the risks of eating fish against the risks of not eating fish.

Omitting the findings of this independent, federally funded study, as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientists did, does a disservice to your readers. Here are some of the highlights absent from their op-ed:

  • Traces of mercury found in the ocean fish we buy in grocery stores and restaurants have not increased over time.
  • For pregnant mothers, results show that eating fish has a 99.9 percent likelihood of a modest net benefit for verbal development of their babies, and a 0.1 percent likelihood of modest risk.
  • The level of fish Americans currently eat prevents more than 50,000 deaths per year from heart disease and stroke combined.
  • It is disappointing to see scientists from the venerable Woods Hole institution ignore these findings that clearly relate to an important public health message about the safety and healthfulness of seafood.

    Gavin Gibbons
    Director of media relations
    National Fisheries Institute
    McLean, Va.

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