PETA writer (and former WPS student!) sends message to Grafton Street School

editor’s note: This might be interesting to some folks … . From PETA:


I thought you might find this interesting. Upon learning that Worcester’s Grafton Street School closed because of a mercury scare after a student brought a pint of the toxic element to school, PETA’s Heather (Robbins) Drennan — a former student at Worcester’s Nelson Place School — sent an urgent letter to Grafton Street School Principal Mary McKiernan, asking her to further reduce the risk of mercury exposure by pledging to leave fish off students’ lunch trays. In the letter, Drennan explains that fish consumption is by far the most common source of human exposure to mercury, which can damage children’s hearts and brains. Eating fish also supports an industry that inflicts suffering on countless aquatic animals.

“Schools should help developing minds expand, and one way to help ensure that our children’s brains perform at their peak level is to leave fish off the menu,” says PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman. “In turn, this can help teach kids compassion for other living beings, which is a lesson that we can all live with.”

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PETA’s letter to Grafton Street School Principal Mary McKiernan follows:

September 29, 2010

Mary McKiernan, Principal

Dear Principal McKiernan,

On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the world’s largest animal rights organization, with more than 2 million members and supporters, including hundreds in Worcester, I urge you, in light of Grafton Street School’s recent mercury scare, not to overlook the most common source of mercury in schools: fish served in cafeterias. Won’t you please protect your students from mercury poisoning and be kind to animals by pledging to leave fish off Grafton Street School’s lunch menu?

Serving fish in the cafeteria could cause students to flounder in the classroom. Scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health have found that eating mercury-contaminated fish flesh can cause heart damage and irreversible impairment to brain function in children. The Wall Street Journal reported on 10-year-old Matthew Davis, whose blood-mercury level was almost twice the EPA’s safety limit and who was struggling in school until he stopped eating canned tuna for lunch. Numerous other studies have found high levels of mercury and other toxic chemicals (including DDT, PCBs, and dioxin, which have been linked to cancer, nervous system disorders, and fetal damage) in farmed fish as well as lake and ocean fish. Nutrients like Omega-3’s and protein can be found in vegan foods, but without the toxins and cholesterol in fish.

Not only is eating fish toxic, it’s also cruel. Kids would lose their lunch if they knew how fish suffer before they end up on their cafeteria trays. Fish are painfully hooked through their sensitive mouths or dragged in nets before being suffocated or cut open while still alive. Farmed fish are crammed together in feces-filled, antibiotic-laden tanks or cages, where chronic sea lice often eat their faces down to the bone. This abuse continues despite scientific evidence showing that fish are intelligent animals who feel pain.

I’d be happy to put your culinary team in touch with chefs who can help you implement a delicious and healthy lunch menu that contains none of the contaminants or cruelty found in fish and other animal-derived products. As a Worcester school system alum, I hope to hear that Grafton Street School will implement a fish-free lunch policy for the sake of the kids and fish.


Heather Robbins Drennan

Special Assistant to the Executive Vice President

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