The environmental group Sierra Club has long fought against pollution from power plants, but in its latest battle against coal, the group is using misguided rhetoric in an effort to link human exposure from power plant pollutants to tuna. In a new alarmist article to its supporters, Sierra club claims tuna-sandwich-eaters throughout the country are now being poisoned by coal plants, going so far as to note that “one-seventieth of a teaspoon [of mercury] can pollute a 20-acre lake to the point where its fish are unsafe.”
Question to Sierra Club and those who look to it for accurate information: when exactly was the last time you went fishing for tuna in a lake? In case Sierra Club has never been fishing, tuna are highly migratory, predator fish that only live in the ocean. The fish used in canned tuna are commercially fished and don’t live in the lakes and rivers where power plant pollution is found.
We’re all for a cleaner environment but we’re also for a little reality, not just rhetoric.
The mercury pollution from power plants that makes it into those lakes and streams actually poses a concern for recreational fishing and anglers, NOT commercial seafood, which is how the vast majority of Americans get their seafood, a distinction Sierra Club conveniently leaves out. Due to volcanic activity on the ocean floor, mercury has been naturally occurring in the ocean since the beginning of time, and despite Sierra Club’s claims that “70 percent of what we’re exposed to comes from human activities,” the levels of mercury in commercial seafood are the same as they were nearly 100 years ago. Furthermore, no peer-reviewed published medical journal has ever reported on a case of mercury toxicity from the normal consumption of commercial seafood, and federal nutrition policy states that Americans should eat at least 8 oz. a week of a variety of seafood.
How exactly is scaring Americans into not eating tuna going to clean up coal? Tuna is a healthy, affordable protein that is high in omega-3s, nutrients that Americans need more of, and according to the USDA’s latest Dietary Guidelines, “the benefits of consuming seafood far outweigh the risks, even for pregnant women.”
Creating false alarms and targeting tuna are not going to help Sierra Club win its fight against pollution, and referencing characters like Jeremy Piven, who used “mercury poisoning” as a convenient excuse to drop out of a Broadway play, will only marginalize Sierra Club. And leaning on clinicians like Dr. Jane Hightower won’t help either. Her hypotheses are vastly out of step with the majority of scientists as proven by studies published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Harvard University and the FDA that all conclude the immense benefits of eating seafood. Making tuna a culprit in a fight against polution is only hurting the public not coal.