Far Worse Than We Thought

by Kent Ballard

There’s not much I can say about parents who insist on their children wearing crash helmets and body armor when they ride bikes while neglecting their childhood immunizations. Sure, piling up a bike can dent your head or scrape your knee. But the diseases stopped by safe and routine immunizations can kill a child, and not only that child but everyone else he manages to infect. Typhoid Mary (or Timmy) took a stroll through Disneyland recently and the butcher’s bill has yet to be calculated. Kids can ride out the measles. They’ll be sick, have a nasty fever, itchy spots and all that. But measles can kill any adult who’s never been exposed to them. It’s a safe bet we’ll be hearing more about this in the near future.

I don’t know about you, but if I had to forego the advice of medical professionals and trust, say, somebody’s wise old grandmother or a B-list TV personality, I’d probably go with grandma. Jenny McCarthy may have started the anti-vaccination movement which has now been discredited several times over, but without the sheer stupidity of many thousands of parents who listened to her it never would have become the problem it is now.

The parents who refused to have their children immunized should be tied into chairs and forced to watch Penn and Teller’s brilliant YouTube explanation about childhood vaccines. Leave them tied there for a week or so, however long it takes for the truth to soak into their cement skulls. Forget medical journals and hundreds of thousands of written words of research. What Penn and Teller did in around three minutes is the strongest case made for having children vaccinated I’ve ever seen.

But while McCarthy’s advice was both ridiculous and deadly, she did have the laudable goal of reducing the number of autistic children born in the United States. It’s hard to knock her for that, even if she inadvertently created another deadly public health problem. More children are born autistic every year. For some time the reason for this was a mystery. It certainly wasn’t the fault of the children themselves, and study after study could find no fault with the parents or anything they had in their environments.

Until now. And what has been discovered is beyond worrisome. It’s absolutely terrifying.

Stefanie Seneff is a research scientist for MIT. She worked in the fields of computer science and artificial intelligence before turning to biology. She’s had papers published on everything from cardiovascular disease to Alzheimer’s. In layman’s terms, that woman knows her stuff. Not too many people can be accurately described as brilliant. Ms. Seneff is one of those people.

Around seven months ago (June, 2014), Stefanie Seneff was asked to address a wellness organization in Groton, MA. No one was certain what her topic would be, but anything coming from her would be well-researched, timely, and highly interesting. But with her opening sentence, a hush fell over the assembled throng and she had the riveted, undivided attention of every soul in the room.

She said, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.”

They said there was dead silence for a moment, then a murmur raced through the crowd. Surely they had misunderstood her. What did she say? Is she joking? No, no, no, this can’t be real…

It was. Those were her professional projections. Half of all kids will be autistic in ten years. And she went on to identify the real culprit behind this.

The Monsanto Corporation’s flagship weedkiller “Roundup” began to be heavily used in 1990 and has become more popular every year since. Seneff produced a chart showing the use of Roundup overlayed against the rising incidence of autism. They match almost perfectly. Even a mere glance at the chart indicates a dramatic correlation. She went on to describe MIT’s findings proving Roundup’s active ingredients were far more deadly and long-lasting than Monsanto’s claims, and that even what they referred to as “inert ingredients” in Roundup were anything but. Not only that, she proved exposure is cumulative. We’re all exposed to it daily, regardless of where we live, and we’re exposed often enough that we can’t shake it, can’t rid our bodies of it. It accumulates within us.

“But I live in the city”, you say. “I haven’t even seen a farm since my third grade class trip.” Okay, I have a few questions for you—Do you eat? Do you drink water? Do you have any bloody idea how many products contain corn and soybeans? Your pet’s food even contains both. Any meat you eat (and feed your children) was raised on corn and soybean meal in its feed, too. And after Roundup is sprayed on a field, where do you think it goes from there? It doesn’t just evaporate. The first rain will melt it into the ground. All rains after that press it deeper into the earth and spread it through the nations aquafiers. Millions upon millions of tons of grain are planted, grown, harvested, and sold from fields sprayed with Roundup. Helpfully, Monsanto sells a wide variety of seed to farmers that is “Roundup-Ready,” meaning it can be planted in a field that’s just been soaked with Roundup and will be immune to the poisons therein.

This isn’t the farmer’s fault. Monsanto assured everyone—including the FDA—that Roundup was perfectly safe. To the farmers, it’s just a great weedkiller, no more, no less. Their advanced knowledge of chemistry is probably on a par with any other profession. And you can “go organic” all you want. You’re still going to get thirsty sooner or later and the majority of all bottled water comes from a regular city tap somewhere. Or you might even take a shower or bath.

I live in farming country. Most farmers buy that stuff by the barrel anymore. Huge farms buy tanker trucks full of it. And very few involved with the sale, shipment, or use of that product knows what you know now…but word is spreading fast. Roundup is good, but not that good. And there are other weedkillers that can be used in modern agriculture. But Monsanto is not a humble mom-and-pop country feed and grain store. It’s a multibillion dollar industry giant with lobbyists, deep pockets, and heavy political clout. Roundup is their cash cow. They won’t go down without a fight. There will be investigations, more studies, hearings, and several setbacks before any kind of ban on Roundup and its satellite products can be put in place. But you’d better start supporting one now.

By the way, Monsanto was named “The Most Hated Company in America” several times. Don’t expect them to use their sense of public decency and the common good to kill one of their most profitable products. They’ll protect it at all costs. They will buy scientists, researchers, Congress if need be.

Here are a few things to remember: the number of children with autism has gone from 1 in 5,000 in 1975 to 1 in 68 in 2014. Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, has been found in the breast milk of American mothers at “dangerous” levels, 760 to 1600 times higher than the allowable limits in European drinking water. Americans have ten times the level of glyphosate in their urine than Europeans. Why the comparisons with Europe? They had the good sense never to legalize glyphosate for widespread use, only in very limited applications, most by goverment-trained and regulated agencies. And we are eating it, drinking it, literally bathing in it every day.

Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring” brought an end to the use of DDT, but that took years. Roundup, in ten years, will leave this nation with 50% autism, and if that happens no one can predict the cost, or even if our nation could survive such a catastrophe. Think about that for a moment. Just think about that…and what it could lead a desperate and failing society to do.


by Zachary Klein

It’s been about twenty-nine years and change since I last cradled a newborn. Much has happened since—both to me personally and to the world in which I live. I’ve struggled to stay somewhat open-minded and positive in the face of personal losses and still willing to grapple with a globe that seems bent on making all the wrong choices.

But while holding each of my new grandchildren and seeing the light gleaming in Matthew and Alyssa’s eyes, my weary energy slipped away. All was right with the world.

Of course we know that last sentence is blatantly untrue. Unadulterated joy is fleeting, an experience to be savored even as it dissipates into what we know as “reality.” Still, it got me thinking about my own evolution since I had my first child (now new dad Matt) at the ripe old age of twenty-one.

Much has changed—not the least of which, me. Back then I was engaged in social service, but my ideas and attitudes were way different than they are now. I really did believe in “any means necessary” to foster change, wrote people off if their beliefs strayed too far from my own, and actually thought violence was a legitimate tool for revolution. I believed that I’d be a failure as a person and father if I weren’t willing to throw my body in front of a bullet, or use one to create a better society and life for my son.

Fast forward fifteen years when my second son Jake was born. I had my own private counseling practice and while I think the work I did helped some individuals, couples, and groups, I continued to see my ongoing hope for a different, a better world, continue to whither away. In some fashion it was worse than when Matt was born. Then, at least, I didn’t feel as alone. There were larger numbers of people who, in their own inchoate ways, shared my longings. Tough to imagine now, but when Jake was conceived I had serious reservations about bringing another child into our world.

But then, as with Matthew, those doubts dissolved in the presence of little arms, hands, legs and an uncontrollable cowlick. Without quite realizing it, the state of the sphere took a backseat to the renewed joy of fatherhood.

And by the time the “real” world returned, I had changed. Still fiercely committed to social justice, violence was no longer part of the equation. Something important had taken over my heart and I no longer imagined bloodshed as an answer to anything. Whatever “good” born out of violence was bound to encourage its lifespan. Whatever positive change might happen because of guns and bullets would eventually disintegrate through the use of those same tools.

Some might say this evolution is the result of age as mortality creeps closer. Actually, I believe that the “something” which had turned me around has been my cumulative years as a parent. Perhaps it was fear for my own and other people that I loved. Whatever it really had been was cemented when one of Jake’s closest friends who regularly spent nights at our house was murdered after I had sent him to work. Murdered trying to save his boss from a thief. A life I loved for tubes of toothpaste. Never again have I been able to see violence as a path to anything other than more violence.

And maybe just as important was a growing willingness to see people as a whole rather than any of their particular beliefs. I find I no longer tease out and judge a person solely by their political or religious ideas. I want more. I want to connect with a person’s humanity which, I’ve learned, has little or nothing to do with left, right, center or particular opinions.

I’ve written somewhat optimistically about life in previous columns but, for the most part, the posts have focused upon the positives within our culture and society. In retrospect, however, Mari and Vivian have already pointed out the big miss. Which for me means relationships. Despite all my talk about how my books are relationship driven and the manner in which those relationships impact each character, I never connected the dots. Those categorizations have to do with me and my life. Something which I had known but in some strange way forgot.

I don’t know whether the world is better or will be better for Mari and Vivian. I don’t know whether humans have the capacity to ever lay down their arms, stop their oppression of each other, lose their racism, or find a way to care for all. I surely hope so. But I do know that my wives past and present, my children and grand-kids, my relatives and friends, old and new, have enriched my soul. And that enrichment has been what’s made my life worth living.

I also have no doubt if two newborn infants can help me realize what’s been in front of my blind eyes, I’ll learn plenty more from them as they grow. So, thank you Mari and Vivian. You’ve already given me a great gift.

And to Alyssa and Matt, a Lou Reed song title says it best. You’re at…