By Rita Shreffler
For over three decades, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. has been one of the world's leading environmental advocates. He is the founder and president of Waterkeeper Alliance, the umbrella group for 300 local waterkeeper organizations, in 34 countries, that track down and sue polluters. Under his leadership, Waterkeeper has grown to become the world's largest clean water advocacy organization.
Around 2005, parents of vaccine-injured children started encountering Kennedy's speeches and writings about the toxic mercury-based preservative thimerosal. They embraced new hope that this environmental champion would finally expose the truth about vaccine injury and win justice for injured children. Kennedy is known for his fierce and relentless brand of environmental activism and his advocacy for transparent government and rigorous science. He is now applying his tenacious energies and sophisticated strategies to exposing the fraud and corruption within the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the pharmaceutical industry. Last month, he launched his new non-profit, the World Mercury Project, with vaccine safety advocates Lyn Redwood and Laura Bono, legends themselves among parents of vaccine-injured children. Autism File executive editor Rita Shreffler spoke with Kennedy about CDC corruption, pharmaceutical industry greed, media malpractice and his vision for the World Mercury Project.
(Left to Right) Laura Bono, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Lyn Redwood are leading the charge against toxic mercury exposures.
Rita Shreffler: How did you first get involved in the autism/vaccine controversy?
Robert F. Kennedy: I was dragged kicking and screaming into this brawl. By the early 2000s, I was fighting multiple lawsuits on behalf of Riverkeeper and Waterkeeper against coal-fired power plants. I was touring the country speaking about, among other things, the dangers of mercury emissions, which, by then, had contaminated virtually every fresh water fish in America. Following many of these appearances, mothers would approach me. Their tone was always respectful but mildly scolding. They said that if I was serious about eliminating the perils of mercury, I needed to look at thimerosal. Vaccines, they claimed, were the biggest vector for mercury exposure in children. I really didn't want to get involved because vaccines were pretty remote from my wheelhouse. I'd always been pro-vaccine. I had all my kids vaccinated and got my annual flu shot every year. But, I was impressed by these women. Many of them were professionals: doctors, lawyers, scientists, nurses and pharmacists. They were overwhelmingly solid, well-educated, extraordinarily well-informed, rational and persuasive.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. participated in a panel discussion following the United Nations screening of Trace Amounts on August 27, 2015.Mary Holland
RS: Was there a particular one of these mothers who finally got you to take the bait?
RFK, JR: Yeah, my brother Max's wife, Vicky Strauss Kennedy, introduced me to a psychologist named Sarah Bridges. Her son Porter was vaccine-injured and later diagnosed with autism. After an eight year legal battle, she had finally received compensation from the vaccine court, which acknowledged that Porter got his autism, seizures and brain damage from thimerosal and pertussis vaccines. She persuaded me to start looking into the science.
RS: That was a daunting request!
RFK, JR: I have always loved science and I'm comfortable reading it. By then, I'd handled many hundreds of environmental cases. Almost all of them involved scientific controversies. When I started reading about thimerosal, I was dumbstruck by the contrast between the scientific reality and the media consensus. All the network news anchors and television doctors were assuring the public that there was not a single study that suggested thimerosal was unsafe or that it could cause autism. After a short time on PubMed, I'd identified many dozens of studies suggesting that thimerosal causes autism and a rich library of peer-reviewed literature—more than 400 published studies—attesting to its deadly toxicity and its causal connection to a long inventory of neurological injuries and organ damage.
RS: What do we know about thimerosal safety testing?
RFK, JR: First of all, vaccines are not subject to the safety rigors undergone by other pharmaceuticals in the FDA approval process. There are no large scale, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. And, in the one 1930 human study of thimerosal that predated its use in vaccines, all the subjects injected with thimerosal died. In 2004, an FDA official acknowledged in testimony before a Congressional committee, that no government or privately funded study has ever demonstrated thimerosal's safety. On the other hand, there is plenty of science suggesting that thimerosal is NOT safe. Several hundred studies available on PubMed link thimerosal exposure to the neurodevelopmental and immune system diseases that are now epidemic in the generation of American children born after the CDC dramatically increased childhood thimerosal exposure starting in 1988.
My book, Thimerosal—Let the Science Speak, summarizes these studies. The scientific literature inculpates increased thimerosal exposure as a culprit in the explosion of ADD, ADHD, speech delay, narcolepsy, SIDS, ASD, seizure disorder, tics and anaphylaxis, including asthma and food allergies. According to the CDC, one in six American children—the so called "thimerosal generation"—now suffers from a developmental disability. We have published a compendium of 80 published, peer-reviewed studies that strongly suggest a link between thimerosal exposure and autism.
RS: The CDC started adding to the vaccine schedule in the late 1980s and all these diseases, including autism, began spiking among kids in the mid-1990s. That's when parents started seeing perfectly healthy children regress into autism after receiving their vaccines.
RFK, JR: Yeah. A rising chorus of complaints from parents and pediatricians linked the new thimerosal-heavy vaccine schedule to an explosion in autism. In response, the CDC, in 1999, commissioned an in-house Belgian researcher, Thomas Verstraeten, to study the Vaccine Safety Datalink, the largest American repository of childhood vaccine and health records, collected by HMOs. The HMO data clearly showed that the massive mercury doses in the newly expanded vaccine schedule were causing runaway epidemics of neurological disorders—ADD, ADHD, speech delay, sleep disorders, tics and autism among America's children. Verstraeten's original analysis of those datasets found that thimerosal exposures increased autism risk by 760%. The CDC now knew the cause of the autism epidemic.