This letter was sent to by Laura and I to President George Walker Bush, wrapped around the six cans of tuna we had in our pantry.
After we bought postage, I snapped a photo of the tuna cans on the counter at the post office. The postal worker asked me if the package contained any hazardous materials. I wanted to say, “Not if you ask the president,” but I kept my big mouth shut.
President Bush did not respond.
February 28, 2004
President George Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500-0003
Dear Mr. President,
Our children love tuna fish. Our son, who just turned six, loves tuna sandwiches. Our daughter, who turned eighteen months old on Christmas, likes to eat tuna by the handful. We used to encourage this since fish is high in protein, and tuna is a particularly good source of omega-3 fatty acids. We used to. Now, we don’t feed our children any tuna at all.
Recently, we learned from data released by your own FDA and EPA that tuna is also an excellent source of methyl mercury, which is classified by the EPA as a neurotoxin. Wow. Too much of one of our children’s favorite foods can cause brain damage? Based on the FDA’s test results – which the FDA didn’t even publish so we had do find them at the Natural Resources Defense Council’s website – we understand our 23-pound toddler may safely eat only one can of tuna every two months.
A can of tuna every two months! We are very careful about what we feed our children, and a can of something every two months made us think, “Why bother at all?”
Then we learned your administration is making a bad situation worse by putting the interests of the energy industry ahead of the health of our children. We understand you have announced plans to relax existing mercury-emissions regulations for coal-fired power plants, the single largest source of methyl mercury pollution in America.
The EPA reported early in 2003 that methyl mercury is one of the only air pollutants on the increase. This same EPA is taking some serious funding cuts in your proposed budget for next year. All signs indicate you are moving in exactly the wrong direction on this issue, and taking steps to limit the EPA’s power to even enforce existing regulations.
No wonder the League of Conservation Voters awarded you its first-ever “F” rating last June.
Although the words “conservative” and “conservation” are derived from the same Latin root, your philosophy of conservatism has nothing in common with our practices of conservation. We have enclosed the six cans of Chicken of the Sea® Chunk White Albacore Tuna that were in our pantry. We have no further use for them.
Please let us know when you have done the right thing and reversed these policies on methyl mercury, so we can begin feeding our children delicious and nutritious tuna fish again. We can be reached at [phone].
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