Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, the Fishing Industry and Mercury

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In October 2005 the American Journal of Preventive Medicine published an article by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis assessing the relative risks and benefits of changes in fish consumption. A press release from Harvard School of Public Health was headlined "Study Finds Government Advisories on Fish Consumption and Mercury May Do More Harm Than Good." [1]

"A comparison of the risks and benefits of fish consumption suggests that government advisories warning women of childbearing age about mercury exposure should be issued with caution. The study warns that if advisories cause fish consumption in the general public to drop out of fear about the effects of mercury, substantial nutritional benefits could be lost," the Harvard SChool of Public Health media release claimed.

"The work was funded by a grant from the National Food Processors Association Research Foundation (now the Food Products Association Research Foundation) and the Fisheries Scholarship Fund," the media release stated.

The U.S. Tuna Foundation, representing major tuna processors such as Bumble Bee, issued an press release embargoed until October 19 - the same day that thye Harvard media release was issued, which hailed the study and warned that "if Americans reduce their fish consumption out of confusion about mercury, there will be serious public health consequences." [2]

In February 2006 New York Times reporter Marian Burros revealed that the U.S. Tuna Foundation contributed the bulk of the $500,000 for the study. The journal article only disclosed as funders the National Food Processors Association Research Foundation, the Food Products Association, and a section of the National Fisheries Institute, a seafood lobby group. Joshua T. Cohen, lead author of the journal article, told Burros "No one is hiding anything.... It never occurred to me anyone would think National Food Processors Association was less industry than Bumble Bee tuna." [3]

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