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But Wait, Is Gulf Seafood Really Safe?

This isn't something we want to hear: Mother Jones asks if the FDA is "overhyping the safety of Gulf seafood," suggesting that, yes, it is. Referring to a study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) that "casts serious doubt" on the claim that Gulf seafood is safe, they suggest the possibility that "the agency is promoting the consumption of seafood that in reality poses serious risk to consumers, particularly pregnant women and children." Which would suck.

According to the NRDC report, the FDA is using "outdated science" that sets the acceptable levels for different oil-related contaminants at levels that are "that are hundreds of times higher than is justified by current science." But why, oh why, would the FDA do this, if indeed they are?

When BP's monumental oil spill finally ended last year , a lot of powerful players had an incentive to declare to seafood supply safe: BP, to limit its obligation to compensate the area's fishing industry; the Obama administration, to put an end to an embarrassing crisis; and the Gulf fishing industry, to protect a multi-billion-dollar market. But the FDA doesn't exist to answer to those interests; it exists to protect the public interest. If the NRDC team is right, the agency has failed to do so in the case of post-spill Gulf seafood.
Or, you know, they're just really slow to pick up on the new science? Or maybe the old science is right? Or maybe we just really want the old science to be right so that everything can go back to normal. Meanwhile, in Florida, officials say "There was a lot of work done to establish those levels, especially in the Southern states. The levels of concern were established in a very open forum with a lot of scientists present to give them input. But it’s a very, very complicated issue.”

At the very least, this should serve as notice that, even though the oil spill began well over a year ago, this shit ain't over yet.

· Is the FDA Overhyping the Safety of Gulf Seafood? [Mother Jones]
· State Officials Defend Florida Against Charges of Inadequate Testing [Florida Independent]
· All Oil Spill Coverage on Eater NOLA [-ENOLA-]

[Photo: flickr / WordRidden]