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Consumer Union issued a press release over the weekend saying that it was “deeply disturbed” by a draft proposal written by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) saying that despite concerns about mercury in fish, consumers should eat more than 12 ounces a week of seafood – which is beyond the current limit advised for pregnant women, women of childbearing age, nursing mothers and young children. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has responded to the FDA move by calling them as "scientifically flawed and inadequate" and “short of the scientific rigor routinely demonstrated by EPA."

Following is the text of the statement:

“Consumers Union is deeply disturbed that the Food and Drug Administration is contemplating relaxing its fish-consumption advice for vulnerable populations such as women of child-bearing age, pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants. The agency’s recommendation flies in the face of decades of scientific-based concern about the neurological and behavioral effects of mercury from food, especially on the developing nervous systems of fetuses and young children. Our analysis of the agency’s own data in 2006 led Consumers Union to recommend that pregnant women avoid tuna altogether.

“’Until there is greater scientific understanding of the causes of neurological disorders and diseases including Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, we cannot rule out the health effects of exposures to neurotoxins like mercury, especially during critical periods of the neurological system's development and vulnerability to damage that occurs in the womb and into childhood,’ said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Senior Scientist and Policy Analyst at Consumers Union.

“With so many types of fish lower in mercury widely available to consumers—such as wild salmon, sardines, scallops or tilapia—Consumers Union finds it irresponsible for the government to deliberately fail to differentiate among better alternatives and suggest that susceptible people should take unnecessary risk.”

KC's View:
The FDA position is difficult to understand, except for the fact that the agency has lost all credibility and therefore most people expect very little from it. I remain cynical and suspicious of pretty much everything that FDA does. And I’m hardly alone.