The April/May issue of Spectrum Magazine has a featured interview with RFK Jr. which we hope you will take time to read an excerpt from below.
Despite being frozen out and even ridiculed by the mainstream media for his views on the link between vaccines and autism (is that why his recent World Autism Day appearance on “Larry King Live” was abruptly canceled at the last minute?), Kennedy continues his crusade to inform the public on this important health crisis.
RFK JR: HIS CRUSADE CONTINUES
By Sarah Bridges, Ph.D. / Photos by Robert Milazzo
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s watershed moment occurred in 2006 when he visited the New York Times headquarters to discuss an editorial piece he submitted on the link between vaccines and neurological disorders in children. Ushered into a small room for what was set to be a private meeting with an editor, he instead found the space crammed with people, overflowing onto the arms of old leather chairs, with expressions ranging from boredom to disdain.
“I expected a discussion with the editor of the Times, but when I went in to meet, they had assembled a group of science editors that were so hostile and antagonistic, it was like talking to a brick wall,” Kennedy remembered. “They were absolutely determined that there would be no public discussion in their paper about mercury and neurological disorders.” His sentences were cut short by rapid retorts, as if the room was laced with invisible mines. Despite Kennedy’s information, and the phonebook-sized stack of articles that Dr. Boyd Haley had perched on his lap ready to share, the editors quickly shut down any discussion of thimerosal’s dangers; one person near the door sighed and rolled his eyes. The meeting progressed for 30 minutes, Kennedy offering DNA, animal, genetic, epidemiological and biology studies, and being met repeatedly with the statement, “The CDC says the vaccines are safe.”
Kennedy doesn’t sit still. When he isn’t at his day job as a clinical professor at the Pace University School of Law, he can be found whirring around the globe to advocate for local people and the environment (he regularly travels to Latin America where he has helped indigenous tribes negotiate treaties to protect their homelands). He was recently featured in Vanity Fair’s “green issue” and was named as one of Time magazine’s “Heroes for the Planet” for his work closer to home in restoring the Hudson River. Aside from these activities, he devotes a large portion of his time to Waterkeeper Alliance, an international advocacy organization dedicated to safeguarding waterways from pollution. The non-profit just won a major suit against the Bush administration for its rollback of President Clinton’s tougher standards for coal-burning plants. His work with Waterkeeper is one visible aspect of his long-term advocacy against mercury and its insidious effects on children.
When discussing Waterkeeper’s recent court victory, Kennedy gets riled up: “It was absurd to have the Bush White House loosening mercury protections when even the EPA was acknowledging that one in six women have dangerous mercury levels in their wombs. The administration fought cleaner air standards when their own scientists reported that 640,000 kids have been mercury-exposed in utero every year and will have neurological effects.”
Despite his intense involvement in curbing environmental mercury, Kennedy sidestepped the thimerosal-autism debate for years. In fact, when approached by parents sharing their stories, he was sympathetic but uninterested in jumping into the fray. That changed in 2004, after he reviewed the thimerosal science tooth and claw, and read the CDC’s internal documents revealing their awareness of the danger it posed to properly vaccinated children. First skeptical, then intrigued, he became convinced that the mercury-based preservative was the breadcrumb trail back to the autism epidemic.
In 2006, Kennedy wrote an article for Rolling Stone magazine called “Deadly Immunity.” The response to his piece was overwhelming: following the publication, Kennedy received thousands of letters and emails from all over the world. “The astounding thing was how alike all of them were and that people from Mississippi to New Delhi shared such identical experiences. Here is the typical scenario I heard: A mother took her toddler to the doctor where he received a spate of vaccines, became ill that night, often with a fever, sometimes with seizures, then lost the language he had, developed stereotyped behavior and regressed into a looking-glass world of debilitated relationships and social isolation. Essentially,” Kennedy adds, “their lives were plunged into unimaginable agony.” It seemed imperative to Kennedy to keep getting the story out to prevent the catastrophe from damaging other children.
However, nothing prepared him for the resistance and anger he faced when discussing autism with politicians and the media. “The unbelievable thing is how these children’s stories are suppressed by the medical community, big Pharma and the American press. There is a total refusal to have the discussion and derision towards anyone who tries.”
Television networks proved equally squeamish about reporting on the vaccine-autism link, something Kennedy attributes to the massive influence wrought through the pharmaceutical industry’s advertising dollars. A case in point: When Kennedy’s Rolling Stone piece hit the newsstands, he granted an exclusive interview to NBC. “The network called asking to do a major report on my piece. I talked to the editors who said they were outraged over what I wrote and would tear the whole issue open. Then, the day it was supposed to air, I got a call saying, ‘higher-ups’ had yanked the segment. I’ve never had this happen before in my career. The producer was extremely apologetic, but said it went well over his head. When word of the cancellation leaked out, NBC was deluged by letters and emails about the killed report. The sad thing is that I would have given it to another network, and when I told them so, they hastily reconstructed the report.” When the segment aired, however, it was unrecognizable to Kennedy as it was weighed down by industry talking points and bracketed on either side by pharmaceutical ads.
Undeterred, Kennedy continues to talk about the rise in autism whenever he has the chance. He is often met by misinformation or revolving-door theories that minimize or deny the problem. “We’ve gone from ‘refrigerator mothers’ causing autism to ‘hysterical mothers’ destroying the vaccine program. You wonder what the CDC thinks these crazy women will pull off next.” Repeatedly, politicians and government officials tell him there is no increase in autism; it is an artifact of new measurement methodology. “This is patently ridiculous,” he adds. “As Dr. Haley says, if new diagnostic techniques are causing more autism, then where are all the 30-year-old autistics? Why haven’t the new techniques helped us find all those people with the disorder born before 1989?”
According to Kennedy, the U.S. has a thimerosal problem because the CDC is a “captured” agency, where grant money, industry-trained executives, and other means have allowed pharmaceutical companies to capture the agency that is supposed to be its watchdog. He believes these conflicts of interest are pervasive and directly correlated to the burgeoning number of environmental toxins in general.
“The United States has privatized the safety research and, by extension, the regulation of toxins. Now the people doing the studies of poisons in food are from Monsanto and drug safety is studied by Pfizer. Expecting objectivity under these conditions is naïve at best.”
Most recently, Kennedy has been speaking out against the CDC’s claim that the thimerosal debate is dead since autism rates didn’t drop when mercury was removed from vaccines. “The CDC themselves admitted that full strength thimerosal-laced infant vaccines were being administered until at least 2003 to allow manufacturers to rid themselves of old inventories. Since autism typically isn’t diagnosed until 44 months, even if all thimerosal was removed from vaccines in 2004, we shouldn’t expect to see a statistical decline in the rates until 2009 or 2010. However, this is irrelevant since it ignores the fact that the flu vaccine contains 50 percent of the mercury that we were giving to kids before the supposed ban on thimerosal and is recommended for pregnant women and infants. The CDC’s willingness to continue injecting children with this neurotoxin is mystifying given the Institute of Medicine’s previous recommendation that it is prudent to stop the practice. Why have they changed their view? One supposition that shouldn’t be ignored is that the CDC is frightened by what would happen if we abruptly removed the toxin, leaving many people in a horrible legal position.”
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