Critique of Muddled Reason: How the Media Threatens the Movement

Posted: July 7, 2014 in ANIMAL LIBERATION NEWS
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Oh, how I’ve missed you.  I’ve been itching to blog about this ever since I first read the offending article, about a month ago; but it has been a crazy month for me personally, so I’ve only now finished jotting down the cruxes of my offense, which will also be in my book if and when that ever gets published (almost done, guys!  I’d say…65%? Maybe 70%?).  Feel free to join me in the ranting and raving, or tell me I’m full of sh*t; either way, PALS and DxE love to hear from you!

Here goes…something:

How the Media Threatens the Movement

While perhaps the least respected victims of the Animal Holocaust, fish have previously been spared from murder in the quantities other animals face due to concerns over whether or not fish consumption is healthy. While misinformation about protein has thoroughly convinced most of the world that humans need land meat for nutritional reasons, concerns about the mercury content of fish flesh in particular has steered many people away from fish-eating—without any moral or ethical eyebrows needing to be raised. The question of whether or not it was “okay” to eat fish was irrelevant, because the prevailing attitude of the medical community was to avoid fish consumption for your own safety. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency released a “seafood advisory” that set upper—but no lower—limits to the amount of fish that various segments of the population should consume.

Some celebrities touted high-fish diets for a while, beginning around the turn of the century and apparently undeterred by the EPA’s advisory in 2004; but these were merely desperate weight-loss attempts intended not to improve one’s health but simply to minimize one’s daily caloric intake (for some, cholesterol was an additional concern–although some fish, like salmon, are high in cholesterol).

On June 10, 2014, I was shocked to discover that the New York Times had published an article entitled, “Health Officials Call for More Fish in Diets of Children and Pregnant Women.” How could this be possible? I wondered. I’m ashamed to say I have actually grown accustomed to the Meat Myth at this point, and am never shocked to see an article about how important it is to eat enough land animal flesh—even though scores of doctors and nutritionists (not to mention vegan bodybuilders and professional athletes) have already proven this false. Angry? Sure. Shocked? No. But at least fish were (largely) safe, I thought, because even people who were not compassionate towards animals were at least compassionate towards themselves and typically (though not always) avoided that which could hurt them.

Now here’s our nation’s flagship newspaper telling everyone that it’s not only okay to eat fish (‘cuz they don’t have any feelings…), but that you should—indeed, need to—eat fish. Perhaps fish sales have been on the decline, and someone up the food chain (so to speak) is trying to turn that around? Or could there really, actually be a concrete reason that we—especially the young and the pregnant among us—should forgo empathy and imbibe on the flesh of innocent sea creatures?

From the article:

Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the F.D.A.’s acting chief scientist, said the agency was concerned that pregnant and nursing women were missing out on the benefits of eating fish. He cited studies showing that children born to women who consume fish have higher I.Q.s and better cognitive development than children born to women who do not.

“A large percentage of women are simply not eating enough fish, and as a result they are not getting the developmental and health benefits that fish can provide,” he said. “Studies very consistently demonstrate that among women who consumed more fish during pregnancy — or at least the amounts we’re currently recommending — that there were improvements in children.”

Before we go any further, I’d like to remind everyone that the FDA receives roughly half of its funding from pharmaceutical companies, as the 1992 Prescription Drug User Act requires that any company seeking drug approval pay user fees. Therefore, half of the FDA’s funding comes from companies that sell treatments for illnesses and conditions such as Haff disease, high cholesterol, impaired memory, and scombroid poisoning—all of which can be traced back to the salmon, tuna and other low-mercury sea creatures now being touted as beneficial for children and expectant mothers.

I’m going to go out on a huge, rather precarious limb here and endeavor to illustrate how and why the New York Times is dead wrong on this one:

  • PCBs found in fish—including low-mercury fish, such as salmon and tuna—cause memory loss (i.e. mild brain damage) and vertigo, as well as contribute to such devastating conditions as cancer and infertility.

Comically enough, a New York Times article published on July 22, 1984 asserted that:

Predatory fish like lake trout and salmon can have especially high concentrations of PCBs. Because of the cancer risk, pregnant women, nursing mothers, women of childbearing age and young children have been advised in the past to limit their consumption of fish species likely to have high accumulations of PCBs…

“I would advise women of child-bearing age not to eat fatty fish like salmon and lake trout at all,” said Joseph L. Jacobson, one of the researchers…[of a study published in the journal Developmental Psychology in 1984.]

Soooooo I guess we’re all just supposed to forget about that now? PCBs don’t matter all of a sudden, and mercury is now the only enemy with which fish-eaters must contend? How convenient. Way to flip-flop, NYT.

  • Even mild/minimal exposure to mercury can result in both heart and brain damage among fetuses, babies and children.

Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that fish consumption can cause heart damage, as well as irreversible impairment to brain function in children, both in the womb and as they grow. Professor of environmental health at HSPH and co-editor of the journal Environmental Health Philippe Grandjean asserts: “If something happens in the brain at development, you don’t get a second chance.”

Environmental Protection Agency biochemist Kathryn R. Mahaffey reported in 2004 that mercury levels in a fetus’s umbilical cord blood are roughly seventy percent higher than those in his or her mother’s blood; therefore, even if an expectant mother’s mercury consumption is minimal, the impact it will have on her baby can be severely detrimental.

  • Fish is not the only source of omega-3 fatty acids.

In researching this portion of the book, I came across site after site, institution after institution and publication after publication bowing to the FDA’s recent decree by asserting the fact that fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids—which are indeed a necessary part of a healthy diet. However, fish are not the only source of these essential nutrients, and there are ample sources of omega-3 fatty acids that do not present one with the risk of brain damage, high cholesterol, impaired motor skills and the like. Such sources include, but are not limited to: flax seeds, chia seeds, seaweed, winter squash, spinach, broccoli rabe, kale, blueberries, mangoes, honeydew melons, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower.

Let us not forget also the moral imperative that these are THEIR bodies, NOT ours.  Even IF fish were “good for you,” many at DxE would forgo them because they are sentient beings and whatever benefits they may have nutritionally can either be found elsewhere or be lived without.  I dig into these analyses knowing that other PALS/DxE-ers may resent it because the moral argument is the most important; but I’m more cynical than they are (must be the New York in my blood), and I know that compassion for fish alone is not enough for mothers to forgo it.  They need to know that the media is lying to them; that fish consumption will HURT rather than help their babies.  The media is putting the lives of human babies at risk, in addition to the lives of numerous innocent fish.

That’s all for now.  Keep fighting the good fight, don’t believe everything you read (including this blog—go ahead and check up on me if you don’t believe me!), and enjoy the early days of summer 🙂

SARYTA_Blog Signature


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