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Research Exposes New Health Risks of Genetically Modified Mosquitoes & Salmon

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This article was written By Sayer Ji, Founder of Greenmedinfo.com. For more news from them, you can sign up for their newsletter here

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Just when genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes got their approval by the Cayman Islands and the government of Canada’s Prince Edward Island is trying to approve GM salmon, new research reveals unexpected and potentially dangerous effects of genetic engineering.

Unfortunately, neither the makers of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) nor their regulators conduct the studies that are necessary to protect the public. Being bitten by GM mosquitoes and eating GM salmon remains a serious gamble.

The new discomfiting research published in Nature Methods examined the unintended impacts of gene editing on the DNA of mice. Gene editing is touted by its promoters as the safer, more precise version of genetic engineering. The earlier version that was used to create the GM crops we all know about (soy, corn, etc.) forced genetic material from bacteria or viruses into plant DNA. Gene editing, on the other hand, does not necessarily introduce genes from foreign species. Rather, it cuts the DNA in a predetermined location. The cell’s DNA repair mechanisms are then activated to repair the cut.

Of all the gene editing techniques, the one that is easiest, least expensive, and most popular is called CRISPR-Cas9. Proponents claim it is so safe and predictable, it should not be regulated. They want to put their gene-edited products on the market without informing governments or consumers. And they don’t even want it to be called genetic engineering, since consumers have largely weighed in against GMOs. That is why the recent research is so damning.

Gene Editing Creates Predictable Mutations

The tools used for gene editing are designed to recognize and make changes only on specific DNA sequences.  In the Nature Methods research, for example, the engineers designed their tools to fix a defective DNA sequence that could restore sight to blind mice. But the defective DNA sequence that governs sight is also repeated in other places throughout the mouse genome—unrelated to vision. Therefore, the gene editing tools can also make unintended changes in these “off-target” locations.

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The unwanted mutations do not come from cutting the DNA. Rather, they occur when the cut ends are rejoined by the cells’ repair mechanisms. It results in either the loss of some DNA base units or the insertion of a few base units at the cut site.

If the mutation occurs in the middle of a known gene (or in a portion of the DNA that controls a gene) it can severely disrupt its function. Gene editors, therefore, rely on computer models of the genome to identify where the similar sequences are that are likely to become mutated and to predict what level of collateral damage that could create. If the risk is considered low enough, they proceed with editing.

Widespread Unpredicted Mutations Discovered

There is a joke that says molecular biologists don’t understand just two things: molecules and biology. Too often, the complex 3-D world doesn’t cooperate with their computer model predictions. This was again confirmed by the work of Stamford’s Dr. Kellie Schaefer, along with her colleagues from Stamford, Columbia, and the University of Iowa.

Instead of letting the computer guess which off-target changes would take place, Schaefer’s team actually sequenced the genome of the two gene-edited mice after they had undergone CRISPR-Cas9. They did find insertions and deletions (indels), which is the type of mutation that the computer predicts. One mouse had 164 indels; the other 128. But of the top 50 sequences that a computer would identify as most likely to be mutated, none were changed at all. Far more importantly, however, the computer model would totally miss their other finding: point mutations throughout the genome. One mouse had 1,736; the other 1,696.

A point mutation is the replacement of a single nucleotide along the DNA. But don’t let its smallness fool you. These so-called single-nucleotide variants (SNV) can have huge consequences. They can lead to many types of changes, including disease.

According to Dr. Michael Antoniou, a London-based molecular geneticist who routinely uses genetic engineering in his research, “Many of the genome editing-induced off-target mutations [both the point mutations and the indels] . . . will no doubt be benign in terms of effects on gene function. However, many will not be benign and their effects can carry through to the final marketed product, whether it be plant or animal.”  This could translate into possible toxins, allergens, carcinogens, or other changes that could affect those eating a GMO.

Dr. Michael Hansen, a Senior Scientist at Consumers Union, the policy arm of Consumer Reports, wrote, “While genome editing has been portrayed in the media as an incredibly precise process, where one can go in and literally only intentionally change one or a small number of nucleotide bases, the reality is that there can be large numbers of off-target effects.” He says, “This study raises troubling concerns.”

Another recently published study in Nature Communications used CRISPR/Cas9 to make 17 edits in the mouse genome. They too sequenced the genome and found unexpected insertions and deletions in all 17 places. Whereas deletions of approximately 9 base pairs are predicted, the actual size of the deletions was as high as 600 base pairs. No computer model predicts DNA damage this extensive.

third study published this year also found deletions of more than 500 base units. The researchers also confirmed that proteins produced by these mutated sections were altered. Such changes could theoretically transform a beneficial protein to a harmful one.

Hansen says the long deletions of DNA material “may not be routinely identified without whole genome sequencing.” But whole genome sequencing is rarely done by gene editors. Instead, they rely on their computers.

Even if they did sequence the genome, science doesn’t yet have the capacity to predict what the real-life consequences of all the mutations would be. Therefore, according to Antoniou, “it is also essential to ascertain the effects of these unintended changes on global patterns of gene function.” For this, both Antoniou and Hansen (as well as the National Academy of Sciences and the international standard setting body Codex Alimentarius) agree that the scientists must also analyze the changes in RNA, proteins, and metabolites.

Armed with this data, certain problems would be obvious—an increase of a known allergen or toxin, for example. But even if no red flags are raised at this point, according to Antoniou, “it is still necessary to conduct long-term toxicity studies” using animals. That’s because, once again, science is still not competent to figure out the complex interactions and side effects that can occur.

Antoniou concludes, “In the absence of these analyses, to claim that genome editing is precise and predictable is based on faith rather than science.”

And it is mere faith that supports the claims that GM mosquitoes and salmon are safe. Although they were not produced by the CRISP-Cas9 technique, they are the product of earlier gene-insertion techniques, which are also fraught with unpredictable mutations and altered gene expressions.

Earlier Research Warnings Ignored by GMO Makers

Just because this year’s research on gene editing shows unintended and potentially dangerous side effects does not mean that companies using the technology will change the way they operate. Indeed, back in 1999, a study showed widespread changes in the DNA due to gene insertion; but many GMO companies conveniently ignored the findings and continue to do so.

In that study, scientists studying cystic fibrosis inserted a gene into human cells. Using a microarray, they discovered that the insertion “significantly affect[ed] up to 5% of the total genes in the array.” This means that the presence of a single foreign gene might change the expression of hundreds, possibly thousands of genes. In the case of the human cell being studied, the scientists were at a loss to determine the impact. “In the absence of more biological information,” they wrote, “we cannot discern which directions are better or worse, since any of these may have positive or negative effects.”

Just like the recent gene editing studies, this 1999 discovery contradicted the assumptions of an entire industry, which marched forward on the false assumption that their GMOs were predictable and safe.

The Untested Danger of a GM Mosquito Bite

In January 2014, I testified at the Florida Keys Mosquito Control District, opposing their planned release of GM mosquitoes. Also testifying was Derric Nimmo, a principal scientist at Oxitec, the UK company that produces the mosquitoes.

Oxitec had already conducted limited releases with millions of Aedis Aegypti mosquitoes in the Cayman Islands, Brazil, Panama, and Malaysia. The male insects were engineered to mate with natural females and produce offspring that die before reaching adulthood. Their plan was to reduce the population and thereby reduce the incidence of dengue and other diseases that this type of mosquito carries.

The company had widely publicized that they were only releasing males, which don’t bite. But it turns out that their method of sorting males from females is flawed, and thousands of biting female mosquitoes are released. In addition, their method to create non-viable offspring is also flawed. Between 3%-15% of the offspring survive and prosper. This can easily translate into millions of biting females, born from a genetically engineered family tree.

After the Florida hearing was over, I asked Derric if they ever analyzed the saliva from their GM mosquitoes, since the saliva enters the bloodstream of the people who are bitten. He said that they were just now doing research to see if the protein produced by the inserted gene was found in the saliva.

Realizing that they had already exposed the population of four countries to their mosquito saliva before doing this research, I was unimpressed. Then…

I explained to Derric the findings of the cystic fibrosis study, showing that a single inserted gene can create widespread changes, including new toxins, allergens, or carcinogens. Shouldn’t his company analyze everything in the saliva, I asked? Derric responded, “Good idea.”

ln Derric’s defense, Oxitec is not the only company that is tampering with nature’s gene pool in spite of the fact that it is wholly unprepared and unqualified to do so. Other GMO makers also fail to use the modern molecular profiling techniques that reveal unintended side effects. However, when independent scientists conduct that type of research on GMOs, the results are sobering.

For example, long after Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn had been consumed by hundreds of millions of people, a team led by Dr. Antoniou found more than 200 significant changes in its proteins and metabolites, compared to non-GMO corn of the same variety. Two of the compounds that increased are aptly named putrescine and cadaverine, because they produce the horrific smell of rotting dead bodies. More worrisome; they are also linked to higher risks of allergies and cancer. Another Monsanto GM corn has a new allergen and their cooked soy has up to seven times the level of a known soy allergen, compared to cooked non-GMO soy.

The Typical Biotech Response: Ignore or Attack

If regulators and medical authorities knew in advance that a proposed GMO contained new or higher levels of dangerous allergens, it is unlikely that the GMO would have been introduced. (I’m being optimistic.) But once a GMO variety is released, grown on millions of acres and eaten by millions of people, somehow the crop enjoys a bizarre immunity. Confronted with hard evidence of allergens, GMO makers and government regulators typically ignore the problem. The offending GMOs are still on the market, and they don’t carry any warnings on the package to protect those who might react.

If independent scientists discover an adverse finding that might threaten their bottom line, companies like Monsanto enlist a veritable army of supporters to drum up opposition—often using unscientific excuses that are repeated so often that they appear to be facts.

Two gene-editing companies whose stocks plummeted after the Nature Methods article came out quickly mounted their attack. But according to GMWatch.org, “the findings reported in the article, along with other recent research papers that also report unintended effects of CRISPR gene editing, show that the companies are arguing on the wrong side of the science.”

The main argument used by the company Intellia was that the mutations were not from the gene editing at all. They claim that “the more plausible conclusion is that the genetic differences reflect a normal level of variation between individuals in a colony.” But the scientific literature does not support this conclusion, given that:

  1. Most of the mutations (117 indels and 1397 SNVS) were exactly the same in the two mice. According to GMWatch.org, “This indicates a targeted and non-random process.” If it were “a normal level of variation,” as Intellia insists, there would be much greater difference between the mice.
  2. Another study looked at the genomes of 36 different strains of mice. None of the point mutations that were found in the gene-edited mice were in any of these strains. Thus, they don’t appear to be naturally occurring at all.
  3. In fact, the sheer number of mutations in the edited mice was higher than scientists find among natural strains.

Perhaps the most strained logic used by Intellia to attack the research was that “there is no known mechanistic basis for Cas9 to induce SNVs.” In other words, the journal should not have published research showing unpredicted changes in the DNA simply because no one yet has figured out why those changes take place.

But if these widespread mutations exist in Crispr-Cas9 edited organisms, according to Antoniou they are likely happening with all the new gene editing techniques, which haven’t yet been studied in such detail.

Real Dangers and Perceived Dangers are Both Dangerous

If we apply these lessons to GM mosquitoes, there are serious consequences. If the saliva contains a new toxin or allergen, it might elicit mild or even deadly reactions. Since there are no human clinical trials and no public health surveillance related to the mosquito, the cause of any associated health problems could go unnoticed. It would require a large-scale outbreak of a serious reaction for health authorities to even mount an investigation, let alone consider the mosquito as a potential source.

Whether or not the GM mosquito causes harm, there is another problem that the Cayman authorities have surely overlooked. Suppose a girl who is vacationing on the island has a sudden onset of a serious health issue without an apparent cause. And suppose that her parents notice that she has also been bitten by mosquitoes. Now suppose that they draw the conclusion, correctly or incorrectly, that her condition is caused by the bite of a GM mosquito and that story is picked up by the media.

It doesn’t have to be a prominent media source for it to inspire some supermarket tabloid to dream up alarming headlines about the serious threat to American tourists by deadly engineered mosquitoes. The results could be disastrous for Cayman tourism.

The Cayman government is not only gambling that GM mosquitoes are safe (which cannot be guaranteed at this point), but also that no one draws the conclusion that they got harmed from being bitten by one. Who would want to vacation on an island where a mosquito bite could lead to who knows what?

It’s the who-knows-what that is the main point here. No one knows. But now that we understand that the generic genetic engineering process that created the mosquito also creates unpredictable and potentially dangerous changes, who in their right mind would release them? Oxitec would, obviously. And they still haven’t published any research on the composition of their GM mosquito saliva.

Oxitec is also planning to release genetically engineered moths in upstate New York. The male moths, like the mosquitoes, mate with natural females and produce larvae that don’t make it to maturity. But that larvae will inevitably be deposited into cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli. What if the genetic engineering process alters the larvae and creates a toxin or allergen? Eating that vegetable might trigger a reaction. And just like the mosquito bite, it would be hard to trace, and the perception of harm (real or unreal) could damage produce sales from regions near the moths’ release.

Oxitec is owned by Intrexon, which also owns AquaBounty—the maker of GM salmon. The research on the salmon did show indications of off-target effects, with higher amounts of a cancer promoting hormone (IGF-1) and larger allergenic potential. But the number of fish used in the study was so small that the changes were not statistically significant. On behalf of Consumers Union, Hansen wrote to the FDA, “Because FDA’s assessment is inadequate, we are particularly concerned that this salmon may pose an increased risk of severe, even life-threatening allergic reactions to sensitive individuals. Instead of approving this product, FDA should be requiring studies with data from many more engineered fish, not the tiny sample of six fish on which it currently bases its conclusions. Unfortunately, even the data from those six fish raises concerns.” The FDA did not heed Hansen’s warning and instead approved the salmon for consumption.

At this point, there are no comprehensive analyses or feeding studies on any of these Intrexon GMOs. Their release might not only affect human health, they can permanently alter the gene pool. If the salmon escape confinement into the ocean, if the surviving GM mosquitoes or moths persist, there is no technology on earth to recall them. Any side effect can be with us for generations.

Although GMO companies like to argue that GMOs with built-in sterility will not persist in the environment. Given the fact that a percentage can survive, however, their argument is deceptive. In addition, studies confirm that after several generations, genetically engineered traits in insects can fail. A recent study, for example, showed that newly introduced traits in engineered mosquitoes failed in just 25 generations.

Intrexon can’t pretend it doesn’t know about the dangers and problems with genetic engineering technology, both real and perceived. Robert Shapiro has been on their board since 2011. He was the CEO of Monsanto who arranged to fast track the release of GMOs into the food supply. Monsanto inserted the company’s attorney into the FDA, where he pioneered the policy that allows GMOs onto the market without a single adequate safety study. Since then, numerous studies have pointed to serious health impacts, all of which are ignored or attacked.

Many of us who study the research on GMOs are convinced that they contribute to rising disease rates in the US. But even if we’re wrong, no one can pretend that the GMOs have been safe for the economy. All over the world and especially in the US, consumer rejection of GMOs has exacted a heavy economic toll on food companies and agribusiness.

But even if the regulators in the Cayman Islands and Prince Edward Island are ignoring the trends, others are wising up. According to Friends of the Earth, “more than 79 grocery retailers with more than 11,000 stores have now made commitments to not sell the GMO salmon,” if it gets introduced into the market. Major brands are already racing to eliminate derivatives of GM crops, even advertising on TV that their products are non-GMO. And many countries and regions that had considered Oxitec’s GM mosquitoes have said no and are opting for safer alternatives. And as long new studies continue to demonstrate serious unpredicted side-effects from genetic engineering, more consumers will take the necessary precautions.

The leading consumer advocate promoting healthier non-GMO choices, Jeffrey Smith’s meticulous research documents how biotech companies continue to mislead legislators and safety officials to put the health of society at risk and the environment in peril. His work expertly summarizes why the safety assessments conducted by the FDA and regulators worldwide teeter on a foundation of outdated science and false assumptions, and why genetically engineered foods must urgently become our nation’s top food safety priority. Mr. Smith’s feature-length documentary Genetic Roulette — The Gamble of Our Lives was awarded the 2012 Movie of the Year (Solari Report) and the Transformational Film of the Year (AwareGuide).

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Awareness

Studies Show We Can Heal With Sound, Frequency & Vibration

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Multiple studies and examples have shown how sound, frequency and vibration can literally alter physical material matter. Research has also shown that sound, frequencies and vibration can be used as a significant healing method for various ailments.

  • Reflect On:

    How plausible would it be for these interventions to become a regular part of therapy, just as much as pharmaceutical drugs are now?

Cymatics is a very interesting topic. It illustrates how sound frequencies move through a particular medium such as water, air, or sand and as a result directly alter physical matter. There are a number of pictures all over the internet as well as youtube videos that demonstrate how matter (particles) adjust to different sounds and different frequencies of sound.

When it comes to ancient knowledge, sound, frequency and vibration have always been perceived as powerful forces that can influence and alter life all the way down to the cellular level. Sound healing methods are often used by Shamans, who employ drums and singing to access trance states. Research has even demonstrated that drumming and singing can can be used to slow fatal brain disease, and it can generate a sense of oneness with the universe . Sound therapy is getting more popular, and it can have many medical applications, especially within the psychological and mental health realms.

Sound, frequency and vibration are used all throughout the animal kingdom, and there are many examples. If we look at the wasp, they use antennal drumming to alter the caste development or phenotype of their larvae. Conventional thinking has held for quite some time that differential nutrition alone can explain why one larvae develops into a non-reproductive worker and one into a reproductive female (gyne).  However, this is not the case, according to a 2011 study:

“But nutrition level alone cannot explain how the first few females to be produced in a colony develop rapidly yet have small body sizes and worker phenotypes. Here, we provide evidence that a mechanical signal biases caste toward a worker phenotype. In Polistes fuscatus, the signal takes the form of antennal drumming (AD), wherein a female trills her antennae synchronously on the rims of nest cells while feeding prey-liquid to larvae. The frequency of AD occurrence is high early in the colony cycle, when larvae destined to become workers are being reared, and low late in the cycle, when gynes are being reared. Subjecting gyne-destined brood to simulated AD-frequency vibrations caused them to emerge as adults with reduced fat stores, a worker trait. This suggests that AD influences the larval developmental trajectory by inhibiting a physiological element that is necessary to trigger diapause, a gyne trait.”

This finding indicates that the acoustic signals produced through drumming within certain species carry biologically meaningful information (literally: ‘to put form into’) that operate epigenetically (i.e. working outside or above the genome to affect gene expression).

Pretty fascinating, isn’t it? Like many other ancient lines of thought, this has been backed by modern day scientific research.

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Cancer 

Another example comes from cancer research. In his Tedx talk, “Shattering Cancer with Resonant Frequencies,” Associate Professor and Director of Music at Skidmore College, Anthony Holland, tells the audience that he has a dream. That dream is to see a future where children no longer have to suffer from the effects of toxic cancer drugs or radiation treatment, and today he and his team believe they have found the answer, and that answer is sound. Holland and his team wondered if they could affect a cell by sending a specific electric signal, much like we do with LCD technology. After searching the patent database for a device that could accomplish this, they came across a therapeutic device invented by New Mexico physician Dr. James Bare. The device uses a plasma antenna that pulses on and off, which, as Holland explains, is important because a constant pulse of electricity would produce too much heat and therefore destroy the cell. For the next 15 months, Holland and his team searched for the exact frequency that would directly shatter a living microorganism. The magic number finally came in the form of two inputs, one high frequency and one low. The high frequency had to be exactly eleven times higher than the low, which in music is known as the 11th harmonic. At the 11th harmonic, micro organisms begin to shatter like crystal glass.

After consistently practicing until they became efficient at the procedure, Holland began working with a team of cancer researchers in an attempt to destroy targeted cancer cells. First they looked at pancreatic cancer cells, eventually discovering these cells were specifically vulnerable between 100,000 – 300,000 Hz.

Next they moved onto leukemia cells, and they were able to shatter the leukemia cells before they could divide. But, as Holland explains in his talk, he needed bigger stats in order to make the treatment a viable option for cancer patients.

In repeated and controlled experiments, the frequencies, known as oscillating pulsed electric field (OPEF) technology, killed an average of 25% to 40% of leukemia cells, going as high as 60% in some cases. Furthermore, the intervention even slowed cancer cell growth rates up to 65%.

You can read more about the story, find sources, and watch that TEDx talk here.

Another example occurred in  1981, when biologist Helene Grimal partnered with composer Fabien Maman to study the relationship of sound waves to living cells. For 18 months, the pair worked with the effects of 30-40 decibel sounds on human cells. With a camera mounted on a microscope, the researchers observed uterine cancer cells exposed to different acoustic instruments (guitar, gong, xylophone) as well as the human voice for 20-minute sessions.

They discovered that, when exposed to sound, cancer cells lost structural integrity until they exploded at the 14-minute mark. Far more dramatic was the sound of a human voice — the cells were destroyed at the nine-minute mark.

After this, they decided to work with two women with breast cancer. For one month, both of the women gave three-and-a-half-hours a day to “toning” or singing the scale. Apparently, the woman’s tumor became undetectable, and the other woman underwent surgery. Her surgeon reported that her tumor had shrunk dramatically and “dried up.” It was removed and the woman had a complete recovery and remission.

These are only a few out of multiple examples that are floating around out there.

Let’s not forget about when Royal Rife first identified the human cancer virus using the world’s most powerful microscope. After identifying and isolating the virus, he decided to culture it on salted pork. At the time this was a very good method for culturing a virus. He then took the culture and injected it into 400 rats, which, as you might expect, created cancer in all 400 rats very quickly. The next step for Rife was where things took an interesting turn. He later found a frequency of electromagnetic energy that would cause the cancer virus to diminish completely when entered into the energy field.  You can read more about that story here.

More Research

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Huntington’s Disease found that two months of drumming intervention in Huntington’s patients (considered an irreversible, lethal neurodegenerative disease) resulted in “improvements in executive function and changes in white matter microstructure, notably in the genu of the corpus callosum that connects prefrontal cortices of both hemispheres.” The study authors concluded that the pilot study provided novel preliminary evidence that drumming (or related targeted behavioral stimulation) may result in “cognitive enhancement and improvements in callosal white matter microstructure.”

A 2011 Finnish study observed that stroke patients who were given access to music as cognitive therapy had improved recovery. Other research has shown that patients suffering from loss of speech due to brain injury or stroke regain it more quickly by learning to sing before trying to speak. The phenomenon of music facilitating healing in the brain after a stroke is called the “Kenny Rogers Effect.”

A 2012 study published in Evolutionary Psychology found that active performance of music (singing, dancing and drumming) triggered endorphin release (measured by post-activity increases in pain tolerance), whereas merely listening to music did not. The researchers hypothesized that this may contribute to community bonding in activities involving dance and music-making.

According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, “Music effectively reduces anxiety for medical and surgical patients and often reduces surgical and chronic pain. [Also,] Providing music to caregivers may be a strategy to improve empathy, compassion, and care.” In other words, music is not only good for patients, it’s good for those who care for them as well.

Below is an interesting interview with Dr. Bruce Lipton. You can view his curriculum vitae here.

The Takeaway

The information presented in this article isn’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes the the medical applications of sound, frequency and vibration, which are all obviously correlated. One thing is clear, however, which is that there are many more methods out there, like the ones discussed in this article, that should be taken more seriously and given more attention from the medical establishment. It seems all mainstream medicine is concerned about is making money and developing medications that don’t seem to be representative of our fullest potential to heal. “Alternative” therapies shouldn’t be labelled as alternative, they should be incorporated into the norm.

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Awareness

Mental Health Problems—The Sad “New Normal” on College Campuses

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College campuses are witnessing record levels of student mental health problems, ranging from depression and anxiety disorders to self-injurious behaviors and worse. A clinician writing a few years ago in Psychology Today proclaimed it neither “exaggeration” nor “alarmist” to acknowledge that young Americans are experiencing “greater levels of stress and psychopathology than any time in the nation’s history”—with ramifications that are “difficult to overstate.”

The problems on college campuses are manifestations of challenges that begin sapping American children’s health at younger ages. For example, many students enter college with a crushing burden of chronic illness or a teen-onset mental health diagnosis that has made them dependent on psychotropic or other medications. The childhood prevalence of different forms of cognitive impairment has also increased and is associated with subsequent mental health difficulties. In addition, a majority of American students are now unprepared academically for their college careers, as evidenced by historically low levels of achievement on standardized tests. Once in college, large proportions of students—increasingly characterized as emotionally fragile—blame mental health challenges for significantly interfering with their ability to perform. The outcomes of these trends—including rising suicide rates among students and declining college completion rates—bode poorly for young people’s and our nation’s future.

… more than three in five (63%) respondents reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety in the past year, while two in five (42%) reported feeling so depressed that it was difficult to function.

Crippling anxiety and depression

A 2018 survey at 140 educational institutions asked almost 90,000 college students about their health over the past 12 months. The survey found that more than three in five (63%) respondents reported experiencing “overwhelming anxiety” in the past year, while two in five (42%) reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function.” Students also reported that anxiety (27%), sleep difficulties (22%) and depression (19%) had adversely affected their academic performance.

In the same survey, 12% of college students reported having “seriously considered suicide.” Another study, which looked at college students with depression, anxiety and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who had been referred by college counseling centers for psychopharmacological evaluation, found that the same proportion—12%—had actually made at least one suicide attempt. Half of the students in the latter study had previously received a prescription for medication, most often antidepressants.

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Colleges are feeling the squeeze, with demand growing nationally for campus mental health services. A study by Penn State’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health reported an average 30% to 40% increase in students’ use of counseling centers between 2009 and 2015 at a time when enrollment grew by just 5%. According to Penn State’s report, the “increase in demand is primarily characterized by a growing frequency of students with a lifetime prevalence of threat-to-self indicators.”

College vaccines

Most colleges expect new students to have had the full complement of CDC-recommended childhood vaccines and to top up before college matriculation with any vaccines or doses that they may have previously missed. In particular, universities are likely to emphasize tetanus-diphtheria-pertussis (Tdap) and measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) boosters; the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine; meningococcal vaccination; and annual flu shots.

… found particularly strong associations for three disorders common on college campuses—anorexia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders—and observed a surge in diagnosed disorders after influenza vaccination (one of the vaccines that college students are most likely to get).

It is unlikely that clinics are issuing warnings to freshly vaccinated college students about potential adverse consequences to watch out for, yet two universities (Penn State and Yale) made news in 2017 when their researchers published a study showing a temporal relationship between newly diagnosed neuropsychiatric disorders and vaccines received in the previous three to twelve months. Although the researchers analyzed health records for 6- to 15-year-old children, not college students, they found particularly strong associations for three disorders common on college campuses—anorexia nervosa, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders—and observed a surge in diagnosed disorders after influenza vaccination (one of the vaccines that college students are most likely to get). They also detected significant temporal associations linking meningitis vaccination to both anorexia and chronic tic disorders.

To distance themselves from too strongly implicating vaccines, these researchers later proposed several less controversial mechanisms to explain their findings, including the presence of predisposing inflammatory or genetic factors. One of the researchers even suggested that the “trauma” of getting “stuck with needles” might be triggering the adverse neuropsychiatric outcomes.

This absurd sidestepping ignores considerable experimental evidence from both animals and humans linking the immune responses produced by vaccines (and vaccine adjuvants) to adverse mental health symptoms. In fact, some researchers vaccinate healthy animals or people on purpose just to study this phenomenon. For example:

  • A study intentionally injected mice with the vaccine used against tuberculosis (BCG vaccine) to induce “depression-like behavior,” finding that the vaccine-induced depression was resistant to treatment with standard antidepressants.
  • Another study in mice found that both the antigens and the aluminum adjuvant in the Gardasil HPV vaccine produced significantly more behavioral abnormalities, including depression, in the exposed mice compared to unexposed mice.
  • University of California researchers followed healthy undergraduates for one week before and one week after influenza vaccination; in the absence of any physical symptoms, they detected increased post-vaccination inflammation that was associated with more mood disturbances—especially “depressed mood and cognitive symptoms.”
  • Another study of influenza vaccination compared vaccine recipients who had preexisting depression and anxiety to “mentally healthy” recipients, finding that both groups had “decreased positive affect” following vaccination; however, the vaccine’s impact on mood was “more pronounced for those with anxiety or depression.”
  • Neuroscientists at Oxford injected healthy young adults with typhoid vaccine to explore “the link between inflammation, sleep and depression,” finding that the vaccine “produced significant impairment in several measures of sleep continuity” in the vaccine group compared to placebo; the researchers noted in their conclusions that impaired sleep is both a “hallmark” and “predictor” of major depression.
  • Another group of UK researchers who likewise injected healthy young adult males with the typhoid vaccine found that, within hours, the vaccine had produced measurable social-cognitive deficits.

Interestingly, a study conducted in 2014 found that vaccine-mental health effects may cut both ways. Researchers who assessed self-reported depression and anxiety (and other measures) in 11-year-olds before and up to six months after routine vaccination found that children who reported more initial depressive and anxious symptoms had a stronger vaccine response(defined by “elevated and persistently higher antibody responses”) and that this association remained even after controlling for confounders. Given that this type of overactive vaccine response can be a harbinger of autoimmunity, some researchers have urged more attention to these “bidirectional” effects.

… we are kidding ourselves if we ignore the possible contribution of a cumulative vaccine load that has children receiving dozens of doses by age 18 …

afe spaces or safe vaccines?

As “safe spaces” multiply on college campuses, and elite private institutions offer dumbed-down for-credit courses like “The Sociology of Miley Cyrus” or “Beginning Dungeons and Dragons,” it is time to take stock of the health challenges—both mental and physical—that are sabotaging college students’ chances of success. Researchers already have noted a disturbing mismatchbetween available cognitive abilities and the types of “non-routine analytical-cognitive” skills that our nation will increasingly need in the future. While variables such as student debt certainly factor into college students’ stress equation, we are kidding ourselves if we ignore the possible contribution of a cumulative vaccine load that has children receiving dozens of doses by age 18—and piles on even more when kids go off to college.


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Awareness

Vaccine Rhetoric vs. Reality—Keeping Vaccination’s Unflattering Track Record Secret

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Note: This is Part VI in a series of articles adapted from the second Children’s Health Defense eBook: Conflicts of Interest Undermine Children’s Health. The first eBook, The Sickest Generation: The Facts Behind the Children’s Health Crisis and Why It Needs to End, described how children’s health began to worsen dramatically in the late 1980s following fateful changes in the childhood vaccine schedule.]

A concerted and “heavy-handed” effort is under way to censor information that contradicts the oversimplified sound bites put forth by public health agencies and the media about vaccines. However, while brazen, in-your-face censorship—and attacks on health freedom—have ratcheted up to an unprecedented degree,  officialdom’s wish to keep vaccination’s unflattering track record out of the public eye is nothing new.

There is a chasm between vaccine rhetoric and reality for most if not all vaccines, but four vaccines—varicella (chickenpox), rotavirus, human papillomavirus (HPV) and pertussis-containing vaccines—offer especially instructive before-and-after case studies. Analysis of the U.S. experience with these vaccines raises important questions. First, why did the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) race to approve—and why does the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) heavily promote—vaccines such as varicella and rotavirus when there is little public health justification for them? Second, why are federal agencies ignoring the many serious risks that have surfaced in the vaccines’ wake—problems unheard of before the vaccines’ introduction?

With the rollout of mass varicella vaccination, shingles started cropping up to an unprecedented extent in both children and adults, eliminating boosting for adults and shifting downward the average age at which shingles occurs.

Varicella and rotavirus vaccines

The rationale for the varicella and rotavirus vaccines was dubious from the start. In the U.S. and other wealthy countries, varicella and rotavirus were nearly universal and mostly benign childhood infections; in those settings, the pre-vaccine impact of the two conditions was largely measured in terms of “healthcare costs, missed daycare, and loss of time from work for parents/guardians” rather than in terms of serious illness or mortality.

Childhood chickenpox infections served an important purpose for all, conferring lifelong immunity to infected children while boosting adult immunity to the related shingles (herpes zoster) virus. With the rollout of mass varicella vaccination, shingles started cropping up to an unprecedented extent in both children and adults, eliminating boosting for adults and shifting downward the average age at which shingles occurs. Vaccine waning also began increasing young adults’ risk for varicella outbreaks and complications later in life, presenting “perverse public health implications.” Meanwhile, the CDC and its local public health partners worked hard to conceal these unwanted chickenpox vaccine outcomes from the public.

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Rotavirus vaccines have had a similarly checkered history. Soon after their introduction in the U.S., reports emerged of a substantially increased risk in infants of an otherwise rare bowel complication called intussusception. The FDA knew about the problem during the prelicensing regulatory review process but ignored it. Although the agency subsequently withdrew its approval for one of the problematic rotavirus vaccines, it was not until after an estimated 500,000 children received at least one million doses. The FDA never explained the “precise mechanism” by which the discontinued vaccine caused intussusception.

Two rotavirus vaccines that display the same intussusception risks are still on the U.S. market. Both are contaminated with foreign DNA from porcine viruses capable of causing severe immunodeficiency in pigs. Had the presence of these “adventitious agents” been discovered prior to vaccine licensure, the FDA probably would have been forced to shelve the vaccines, yet they remain on the vaccine schedule to this day.

The speed with which the FDA gave them [HPV vaccines Gardasil and Gardasil-9] the go-ahead—despite obvious red flags regarding their safety—illustrates the insincerity of the agency’s assertions that its vaccine approval process is committed to minimizing risks.

HPV vaccines

The HPV vaccines Gardasil and Gardasil-9 (manufactured by Merck) represent perhaps an even more compelling case study of risk-laden vaccines that should have attracted strong up-front regulatory scrutiny—but didn’t. The speed with which the FDA gave them the go-ahead—despite obvious red flags regarding their safety—illustrates the insincerity of the agency’s assertions that its vaccine approval process is committed to minimizing risks.

The FDA not only gave the quadrivalent Gardasil a free pass but has repeatedly reapproved it and the nine-valent Gardasil-9 for wider use. (Gardasil-9 is a newer formulation that contains more than twice the amount of neurotoxic aluminum adjuvant as Gardasil.) In 2009, the FDA also okayed GlaxoSmithKline’s HPV vaccine, Cervarix, but Merck’s FDA-facilitated stranglehold on the market prompted the company to withdraw Cervarix from the U.S. in 2016. Merck is now aggressively expanding its Gardasil “franchise” into other countries, generating unprecedentedworldwide demand, while continuing to “rev up” U.S. sales.

Since 2006, the FDA’s Gardasil-related decisions have included:

  • 2006: Granting fast-tracked approval for the original quadrivalent Gardasil vaccine (girls and women aged 9 to 26 years)
  • 2009: Approving Gardasil’s use in boys and men (ages 9-26)
  • 2014: Approving Gardasil-9 (girls ages 9-26, boys ages 9-15)
  • 2015: Approving Gardasil-9 for boys ages 16-26
  • 2018: Approving Gardasil-9 for older women and men (ages 27-45)

An eight-month investigation by Slate identified numerous troubling aspects of the clinical trials that encouraged U.S. and European regulators to approve Gardasil. The Slate reporter also criticized regulators for allowing “unreliable methods to be used to test the vaccine’s safety.” These included Merck’s use of “a convoluted method” that made it difficult to objectively evaluate and report side effects; its failure to document “symptom severity, duration, outcome, or overall seriousness”; restriction of adverse event reporting to just 14 days following each injection; and reliance on the subjective opinion of clinical trial investigators regarding “whether or not to report any medical problem as an adverse event.” Not infrequently, clinical trial participants who shared complaints of debilitating symptoms with trial investigators were dismissed with the response, “This is not the kind of side effects we see with this vaccine.”

The author of the Slate investigation reported:

Experts I talked to were baffled by the way Merck handled safety data in its trials. According to…a professor…who studies side effects, letting investigators judge whether adverse events should be reported is “not a very safe method of doing things, because it allows bias to creep in.” …Of the short follow-up…,“It’s not going to pick up serious long-term issues, which is a pity. Presumably, the regulators believe that the vaccine is so safe that they don’t need to worry beyond 14 days.”

Two years after Gardasil’s initial approval, Judicial Watch pronounced it a “large-scale public health experiment.” Post-licensure studies carried out since then confirm that HPV vaccines have grave risks, including impaired fertilitydemyelinating diseasechronic limb paincirculatory abnormalities and autoimmune illness, to name just some of the disabilities reported in the aftermath of HPV vaccines’ introduction. Overall, the “rate of reported serious adverse reactions (including deaths) from HPV vaccination” is many times higher than the cervical cancer mortality rate.

Recent data suggest that HPV vaccines may be increasing cervical cancer risks.

In a February 2019 letter to the CDC, Children’s Health Defense Chairman Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. noted, “During Gardasil’s clinical trials, an extraordinary 49.5% of the subjects receiving Gardasil reported serious medical conditions within seven months of the start of the clinical trials. Because Merck did not use a true placebo in its clinical trials, its researchers were able to dismiss these injuries as sad coincidences.” A current civil case brought on behalf of a 24-year-old who has suffered from systemic autoimmune dysregulation since receiving her third Gardasil vaccine at age 16 alleges that Merck “committed fraud during its clinical trials and then failed to warn [vaccine recipients] about the high risks and meager benefits of the vaccine.” The trial’s legal team is benefiting from the support of an “A-team” of plaintiffs’ law firms and attorneys, including Kennedy, Jr.

Recent data suggest that HPV vaccines may be increasing cervical cancer risks. A 2017 study out of Australia—which has heavily promoted routine HPV vaccination since 2007—reported an increased risk of difficult-to-detect malignant cervical lesions among the HPV-vaccinated. In all countries where HPV vaccination coverage is high, including Australia, official cancer registries show “an increase in the incidence of invasive cervical cancer” in the vaccinated age groups. In England, “2016 national statistics showed a worrying and substantial increase in the rate of cervical cancer…at ages 20-24”—the first HPV-vaccinated cohort.

The proper decision would be to take HPV vaccines off the market, but the FDA and CDC continue to look the other way. Both agencies’ unwavering support for Gardasil has clearly helped Merck’s commercial bottom line, so much so that the CDC director at the time of Gardasil’s approval (Julie Gerberding) went on to be appointed president of Merck’s profitable vaccine division (worth $5 billion globally) in 2009. The agencies’ willingness to aggressively promote HPV vaccination despite its readily apparent dangers illustrates a “public health flimflam” of the first order. Before the U.S. introduction of HPV vaccination, a decades-long pattern of declining cervical cancer rates was already well underway, thanks to routine cervical cancer screening. HPV vaccines have never even been proven to prevent cervical cancer. In 2016, researchers admitted that they would be unable to ascertain HPV vaccines’ long-term efficacy for “at least another 15-20 years.”

Officials also seem to have little interest in modern evidence documenting many vaccines’ inability to provide the promised protection, even when vaccine coverage is widespread.

Pertussis-containing vaccines

Alongside their many misplaced claims about various vaccines’ rationale and safety record, the FDA and CDC—as echo chambers for the vaccine industry—also have misinformed the public about vaccine effectiveness. Back in 1899, doctor William Bailey (vaccination enthusiast and member of the State Board of Health in Louisville, Kentucky) was more honest, cautioning that “nothing is gained by claiming too much” about vaccine-induced immunity and stating that “the degree of immunity may vary with time and circumstance”—presaging the troublesome modern phenomena of vaccine failure and waning immunity. In the present day, officials are only too willing to “claim too much,” conveniently ignoring historical evidence that reductions in infectious disease had little to do with vaccines and far more to do with improvements in sanitation and nutrition. Officials also seem to have little interest in modern evidence documenting many vaccines’ inability to provide the promised protection, even when vaccine coverage is widespread.

The acellular version of pertussis (whooping cough)—a component of U.S. vaccines such as DTaP and Tdap—is one of the vaccines noted for its abysmal effectiveness. The vaccine is supposed to protect against the respiratory infection caused by Bordetella pertussis. Instead, according to recent studies, pertussis is making a “surprising” comeback; between 1990 and 2005, pertussis epidemics increased in the U.S. “in both size and frequency,” and over half of all cases occurred in highly vaccinated adolescents aged 10 to 20 years old. In fact, not only is pertussis at its highest level since the mid-1950s, but, according to CDC researchers, it is showing signs of being vaccine-resistant. The CDC researchers also note “substantial heterogeneity among vaccine recipients in terms of the durability of the protection they receive.”

… the researchers concluded in 2017 that all currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis …

West Africa has used the DTP vaccine since the 1980s—formulated with a whole-cell pertussis component instead of acellular pertussis—and it has an even more horrifying safety and effectiveness record than its acellular counterparts. Research published in 2017 by a prestigious team of international scientists and led by vaccinology expert Dr. Peter Aaby found that DTP vaccination had a negative effect on child survival, with fivefold higher mortality in young DTP-vaccinated infants (ages three to five months) compared to as-yet-unvaccinated infants. When the researchers published results in 2018 for slightly older DTP-vaccinated children (ages six months to three years), they continued to observe more than double the risk of death as similarly situated unvaccinated children. Explaining that vaccines can increase susceptibility to other infections, the researchers concluded in 2017 that “all currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis” and added in 2018 that “all studies of the introduction of DTP have found increased overall mortality.”

Learning from history

Efforts to counter the official vaccine narrative with evidence about negative consequences date back to the days of smallpox. A doctor practicing in the 1870s observed that smallpox mortality doubled (from roughly 7% to 15%) after adoption of smallpox vaccination. During an outbreak in 1871 and 1872, this doctor stated, faith in vaccination received a “rude…shock” when “[e]very country in Europe was invaded with a severity greater than had ever been witnessed during the three preceding centuries.” The doctor also noted that “many vaccinated persons in almost every place were attacked by small-pox before any unvaccinated persons took the disease.” In this individual’s estimation, these facts were “sufficient to overthrow the entire theory of the protective efficacy of vaccination.”

In the present era, federal agencies continue to tout difficult-to-justify but money-spinning vaccines as beneficial, even in the face of substantial evidence to the contrary. Now, more than ever, it is important to illuminate the risks and downsides that public health agencies do not want us to know about.

Sign up for free news and updates from Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and the Children’s Health Defense. CHD is planning many strategies, including legal, in an effort to defend the health of our children and obtain justice for those already injured. Your support is essential to CHD’s successful mission.

Help Support Collective Evolution

The demand for Collective Evolution's content is bigger than ever, except ad agencies and social media keep cutting our revenues. This is making it hard for us to continue.

In order to stay truly independent, we need your help. We are not going to put up paywalls on this website, as we want to get our info out far and wide. For as little as $3 a month, you can help keep CE alive!

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