Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) activists describe themselves as “pragmatic environmental advocates” who are “grounded in science.” But EDF lobbyists, “experts,” attorneys, celebrity talking heads, and fundraisers are not reasoned and objective champions of the public’s well being.

Their lack of scientific integrity is evident in their campaign to curb mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. To gain political and public support, they opportunistically misrepresent the safety of seafood through emotional rhetoric and falsehoods.

Hyping risk is one of the key ways the EDF misleads the public. For example, its seafood calculator “does not try to balance risks and benefits” of seafood, a serious omission that Timothy Fitzgerald admitted to the Washington Post. The guide also wrongly advises how much and what kinds of fish various populations should eat because it fails to use the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) standard for mercury limits. (It’s worth noting that the FDA standard includes a built-in safety factor of 1,000 percent. That means you’d have to eat 10 times more fish than the FDA threshold every day for the rest of your life to reach a level associated with any known risk.)

The EDF-backed coalition group, Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF), also stirs up unfounded fears. MCAF leadership has instructed women to refrain from eating tuna during pregnancy and avoid feeding it to their children — dangerous advice debunked by decades of research. They have warned about the possibility of mercury poisoning — even though there has never been a documented case in the U.S. from the normal consumption of seafood. And they’ve pretended that choosing a variety of seafood is complicated — it’s not. That’s because the 10 most popular fish enjoyed by Americans (salmon, canned tuna, shrimp, clams, crab) are all low in mercury.

Such deception ignores international scientific consensus: A fish-rich diet is both safe and healthy. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend Americans eat more fish because “consistent evidence shows that the health benefits from consuming a variety of seafood in the amounts recommended outweigh the health risks associated with methyl mercury.”

The EDF is hardly “grounded in science.” Warning families to avoid seafood is not only wrong – it’s dangerous.