Fable: The Mercury “Scare” is Media and Environmentalist Hype

Facts: The message that there is no scientific concern about methylmercury, that the issue is a scare hyped up by biased reporters and environmentalists promoting more regulation, is one of the seafood lobby’s favorite fables. But it’s the biggest fish story of all.

The truth is that most public-interest and environmental organizations that have publicized mercury-in-fish issues have accurately interpreted the best scientific evidence and the consensus positions of health authorities. The vast majority of misinformation on the subject comes from the seafood lobby itself. For reporters and others interested in evaluating the trustworthiness of information sources on this topic, we survey here the seafood lobby’s most prominent public-relations campaigners and the tactics they use to mislead the public, harass the media and scientists who speak out about mercury, and undercut government advice.