This week we start the show off by getting an education on the destructiveness of the industrialized food system from 14 year old Birke Baehr. No. That is not a typo. Birke is 14 years old and started reaching out to educate people on the dangers of the industrialized food system at the age of 11. His first speech was recorded and placed on YouTube and has over 1 million views. The best part of this kid’s story- he was the one to influence and educate his family.
“There just came a point that I started learning so much about the food system…you know…that I just had to have a family meeting with them. I was like… ‘Hey Mom and Dad, you know…after all this stuff I’ve been learning…the only way we can eat real healthy food is by eating organic.’ And you know that’s where my dad comes in and says the normal thing, ‘It costs too much money and it’s too expensive and I actually used that quote the first time on my parents, ‘You can either pay the farmer or you can pay the hospital,’” said Baehr.
During the second half of the show we are joined by attorney Alan Phillips to tell us the ugly truth about vaccinations. Phillips begs the question, “Here’s a vaccine that doesn’t work, what’s in that vaccine that they want in our bodies?” Phillips goes on to talk about the growing trend where healthcare facilities are requiring their employees to be vaccinated with the flu shot and various other vaccines. And you won’t believe the astonishing percentage of healthcare workers the big vaccine companies want to give this unproven shot. Outrageous!
Off The Grid Radio
Released: June 20, 2013
Brian: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Off the Grid News; a radio version of the ever-growing in popularity offthegridnews.com. Brian Brawdy here, as always, with Mr. Bill Heid. Bill, how are you, sir?
Bill: Brian, I’m excited. I’m excited about our guests today. It’s rare that we have someone as articulate as they are and especially the age that they are. So this is going to be one of the cooler shows, I think, just because I really enjoy this young man.
Brian: Very cool.
Bill: So if you want to tell us a little bit about him then we can jump right into him because we’ve got about a half an hour today to talk to him and then we’ll…
Brian: I like him because his initials are B.B.
Bill: Well yeah.
Brian: So I think that’s very cool. Anyway. All right, so let’s do this. Ladies and gentlemen, an internationally recognized speaker and youth advocate for sustainable food and agriculture. Our guest has visited and volunteered at farms around the United States and recently published his first book Birke on the Farm. You may have seen his TED Talk, you and well two million other people have watched his TED Talk. I was just on his Facebook page, liked him over there. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello and, Bill, to Mr. Birke Baehr. Birke, how are you, sir?
Birke: I’m going good. How about you?
Brian: Good, my friend.
Bill: Hey, Birke, it’s Bill here. Thanks so much again for taking some time to spend with us today. A lot of folks have heard about you and what you do, a lot of folks haven’t. So some of our listeners are unaware about your first talk; when you were 12 you did a talk called “What’s Wrong With the Food System” and I’d like to talk a little bit about that just to kind of catch people up. But I’m curious—I’m always interested in antecedents and presuppositions. So how did you get yourself—before we talk about that, how did you get yourself into a position where you were interested in this kind of thing?
Birke: Yeah, it was really weird because for the longest time, you know, I’ve—as a little kid you hear hints or something about the food system, about things not being healthy; whether it be fat or too much sugar or you knew that there might have been a little bit of chemical spread on your food but you really didn’t pay that much attention to it. So probably around the time of when I was about eight or nine years old I saw an article on the Internet that said mercury was found in high fructose corn syrup and I knew what mercury was from third grade science and I knew that it could kill you and so on and so forth, but I had no clue what this high fructose corn syrup stuff was. And so I ended up asking my mom and she thought for a second and she goes “Well, you know, the only thing I can think it’s in is in sodas.” And so that was sort of one of the first things that really hit off to me; I was like “Why is there something that can kill us in our food?” I, at that time, used to drink sodas if not every other day, you know, at least once a week.
Bill: So that’s what orig—are your parents interested in this kind of thing, Birke?
Birke: No. My parents really weren’t into the food system that much. My mom tried to eat healthy by buying whole wheat bread and she didn’t let us have sodas at home, but we’d still buy them out to eat or, you know, we’d have sparkly cereal like…
Bill: Captain Crunch.
Birke: Yeah, Captain Crunch…
Bill: Boo Berries.
Birke: Frosted Flakes, Cheerios…
Bill: Count Chocula.
Brian: Oh, Count Chocula. That was good.
Bill: That was Brian’s favorite, Count Chocula.
Brian: Count Chocula.
Bill: So your parents were kind of playing around with it a little bit trying to—your mom trying to be a good mom and doing the best she could, given the circumstances but you’re kind of breaking with—there’s no family tradition that kind of sets you up. Like I could see if you were one of Joel Salatin’s kids, you’d just kind of grow up a little bit thinking this way because the dinner table would be full of conversation about this kind of thing. But you’ve also run into Joel at some time or another, too. Tell us about that.
Birke: Yeah. Well probably—I was probably about nine or ten years old at the time and I was—this was long after I started learning about the food system and I found out at GMO’s and pesticides and herbicides. And I believe I came across a Mother Earth news article about Joel Salatin and after reading about it I was just so like—I had this fascination with all this type of farming he did and the way that he just had so much common sense with the way that he moved his animals around and let them express their natural way of being that it just really made me really like what he was doing and wanted to learn more. And so after milling about him for six or seven months I saw a flyer in a local food co-op that said Joel Salatin was going to be speaking at the farm in Summertown, Tennessee. And I ended up going and hearing him speak for a whole day. There was a full day seminar and really got to learn a lot from him. And it was just amazing to be able to hear all the awesome, you know, stuff that he’s been learning about and that he’s done. And it was just amazing to spend that time with him and really understand a lot more about what he was doing.
Bill: How did you end up doing the presentation when you were 12 that got so much acclaim and so many views, I think. What is it—has it been a million yet or is it five hundred thousand, a million? Two million? Brian’s saying two million to me. Two million views. How did you get set up—what was the circumstances that set you up for that?
Birke: It was—really how it started was thanks to good old Facebook. My mom was on ted.com’s Facebook page and she saw a post from a different organization called TEDx Next Generation Asheville, which was an organization that was—it’s pretty much like an independently organized TED in Asheville that was made for youth from 13 to 19, I believe were the age requirements for the thing. And she showed it to me and she was like “Hey, look at this. You’ve always been interested in the food system for a while and all this stuff you’ve been learning about, you’ve really wanted to teach the world or people you’ve met about what’s in our food.” And I go “Yeah, that’s cool and all but look at the age requirements. I’m only 11”, at the time. “What if I don’t meet the age requirements?” And she goes “Well why don’t you just send in a form and see if you get picked?” And so I ended up sending in a page overview of what I wanted to talk about and a five minute video of just me chatting up stuff off the top of my head sort of what I wanted to talk about and that sort of thing. And I went through the process and I was chosen to be one of the speakers. I was the youngest speaker at the time and I got up there and did a five minute talk five months after I sent the form and told this stage in Asheville, which was probably about 100-200 people or so about what’s wrong with our food system. And I never had any clue what type of branching out effect that would’ve had. I mean, I told my mom probably a week or so before the talk that I don’t care if I only reach 10 people. You know, if I can only reach 10 people, that’s 10 people eating organic, going and meeting their farmers and wanting to know what’s in their food. Just seeing the mass effect that I’ve had on the world is just found me just crazy.
Bill: I’d like to give some credit to your teachers, Birke. I mean, are you traditionally schooled? Do you go to public school, private school, home-schooled? What are you?
Birke: I was public schooled all the way until third grade. And then I got out and I was home-schooled—I’ve been home-schooled ever since.
Bill: The only reason I say that is—all the way up until the third grade. Okay. The reason I say that is there’s not a lot of kids that I know that can just, you know, even do a semi-sophisticated rant for five minutes, let alone a very articulate talk. So that’s interesting; both the teachers that you had when you were younger, as well as your parents, kudos to them obviously for at least getting you to the place where you can think. I think that’s what’s so astounding about it is that you’re just able to stop and think about things rather than just be caught up in some existential moment.
Birke: Yeah, it’s really interesting because that was actually the first public speech I ever gave about the food system. And a lot of people don’t notice it but I was scared out of my mind when I did it. So it was like…
Bill: Yeah, I didn’t get that from that talk, that you were totally scared beyond belief. I thought you were just a little nervous maybe, kind of like anybody would be, adult or a younger person would be before they gave a talk. But I didn’t feel like you were losing it.
Birke: No, it was one of those things where I was so nervous about the situation I was like “Oh my gosh, I don’t know how…” I saw the stage and I’m like “Whoa, that’s a big crowd.” And I was just so happy to let it come out like it did. It was just—it’s been an awesome opportunity and I’m thankful to all the people who put the event together because it was just—everything was set up so wonderful.
Bill: And I think what we can learn from that, for others who are listening to this who have children that may have a propensity for this kind of thing, is look what happens for somebody that steps up and steps out, right? With courage, you stepped up to the plate and said, “Throw me a fast ball and I’m going to see if I can hit it.” And you’re saying you were a little nervous, your swing was a little nervous, but you still hit it and look what the world—it’s so tempting to say “The world’s going to hell in a hand basket” and so forth and “Everything’s bad” but look what how the world responded to somebody with positive convictions. I think that’s what I’m most taken back by.
Birke: Yeah definitely. I see kids all the time, whether it be from contacts from my website or seeing on Facebook or even in real life I’ll see kids talking about their food system or wanting to make a change and it’s just always wonderful to see those people step out. I’ve been an entrepreneur, too, trying to get books out and teach kids about the food system and whenever I see kids, whether it be they’re playing music on the side of the street, I’ll give them a dollar because I know what it takes to get out there and really show what you’re passionate about and what you believe in.
Brian: Hey Birke, you know I was thinking, too, as I’m going over your website; which we’ll give out also before the end of the show. And I want to talk to you briefly about the controversy because as good as everything has been you’ve also taken a little bit of flack; people suggesting—some things are getting under your skin. Do you want a chance to kind of set the record straight for us as well with that?
Birke: Yeah, that’d be awesome because ever since I’ve really started it I’ve gotten, whether it be contacts from people or comments on YouTube, you know there’s always going to be those naysayers out there. They’re going to think that—some of the big things that people are saying about me is that my parents have brainwashed me or told me to say all this sort of stuff. And to tell you the truth, that’s not true. It was one of those things that I actually brainwashed my parents and forced them to start eating organic, because I was sort of on a diet. I’m like “Nope, I’m not going to eat that, that and that.” And so the only way that I would eat was them having to buy organic food. And it just came to a point that I started learning so much about the food system that I just had to have a family meeting with them. And I was just like “Hey Mom and Dad, after all this stuff I’ve been learning, the only way we can eat real healthy food is by eating organic.” And, you know, that’s where my dad comes in and says the normal thing, “Oh that costs too much money and it’s too expensive.” And I actually used that quote the first time on my parents, “You can either pay the farmer or you can pay the hospital.”
Brian: Very cool.
Birke: So my mom and dad, they looked at each other and my mom’s like “That kid has a point.” And afterwards showing them all the articles I’ve been reading and it’s just really from there we started eating organic and started changing our family.
Brian: You know, Birke, I’d say I’ve been doing the public speaking thing for just a wee bit longer than you have and I would say don’t let them get under your skin. I don’t remember who said the quote, Bill, but remember the biggest tree grabs the most wind. So all the naysayers, all the people that want to say something negative about Birke, well of course they do. He’s a big tree and he’s going to…
Bill: Well anybody that makes a choice to live a life…
Bill: …instead of doing the quiet desperation thing, anybody that wants to live a life is going to take some heat. Especially when you’re running headlong into Monsanto or someone like that, it’s pretty hard. But I think it’s appropriate—it is a David and Goliath; it’s a young man with a little rock and of course these big companies are pretty intimidating to try to stare down, let alone even do any kind of battle with. So stay in the game, Birke. You’re doing a great job. Tell us a little bit again—run through your basic premise in this famous speech that you gave. And of course when we do this we’ll make sure the link is so folks can go back to that TED site and actually watch what you said. But tell us in a nutshell what you were communicating.
Birke: Well really when I planned out the talk and I sort of wrote an overview of it, what my main purpose was was that I knew I had five minutes to do a speech about the food system. And if—I’m sure you know as a public speaker that five minutes for a speech about the entire food system is not that long. And so my main focus was try to convey sort of a little bit about what was happening in all aspects of the food system and really get people to understand that it’s not just GMOs, it’s not just pesticides and herbicides, it’s the whole—you know all the chemicals. And I also said that I didn’t want to focus just on the bad stuff. I said I’ll put the first half of my talk sort of me finding out about the food system and finding out about all the bad stuff, but I want the last half of it to be hope and joy; to show that you can go and you can make a difference and that you can go and meet your farmers and you can go eat local. And that’s how each one of us makes a difference is we go to a ballot box every day, every time we go to the grocery store and we vote with our dollars. And you can vote for the crappy processed foods that are sprayed and genetically engineered or you can vote for the good wholesome foods from your farmers.
Bill: And even buy stuff from—you know that vote—I think you’re sort of getting at this idea of what the Southern Agrarians used to advocate, just less self-conscious about it, but as you had mentioned earlier kind of knowing the people that you buy your food from. What a novel concept, right? I mean this is what we talked about with Joel Salatin. What a novel concept to actually know the guy that’s growing your food or know the person that’s producing your milk for you as opposed to where in the world did this come from. It’s on the shelf and it looks beautiful but I have no idea.
Birke: And I know for a lot of people that it’s too expensive to eat organic and your budget may not afford it. And so if the best you can do is by eating local or knowing your farmers; you know a lot of farmers can’t afford organic certification or they don’t necessarily want to get it, but they may be growing perfectly fine food. And so if you know the guy who grows your food and you can ask him questions and go out to his farm and see what he does, I think it’s always the most important thing. And like Joel Salatin says is, you know, we have a relationship with our mechanic, our real estate agent, our insurance agent, our banker, but we don’t have a relationship with our farmers and we need to get back to where—you know, there was a time where everybody knew your farmer, whether it be your dairy farmer from down the road or your vegetable farmer. You know, you knew the guy that grew your food and having that connection is, to me, one of the most important things anybody can have because food is just such an important thing. You know, we live and thrive off of it and without it we die.
Bill: And Birke, not only a connection in the loosest sense but I’ll also bring up another “C” word, covenantal. In other words, you sort of—it becomes more than just an economic transaction and like you, I’m for the free market. I’m certainly not opposed to other people trying different things but I’m just saying if you have sort of covenantal relationship with someone it means you’re sort of bound by some common notion, beliefs, something that ties you together with your food provider and I think that can be a real beautiful thing. That’s the way the world used to be and it seemed like the world in many cases, at least with respect to the food supply, was a better place when that sort of covenantal bond was still there. Don’t you think?
Birke: Definitely. You know, it’s—like I was saying it’s so important to know your farmer in that when you have that connection you’re able to know more about it. And these companies are using such, whether it be marketing or advertising, trying to form that bond with just pictures on the package of happy cows and grass with big red barns and trying to convey that sort of image when really it’s so different. And so I think definitely knowing what the real image is is such an important thing.
Bill: And that’s a good message. Do you tell people—is your message, would you say, different for age groups? In other words, do you tell 14 year olds the same thing you tell 55 year olds?
Birke: In a sense. Some 14 year olds, you start talking about genetically engineered foods and genetic genome structures and DNA and all that sort of stuff and their eyes sort of glaze over and they’re like “I have no clue what you’re talking about.” And then older audiences can understand the sciences and a lot more stuff. So different age groups you’ve got to kind of convey it a little bit different with the wording, but I try to get the same message out there where people can understand it well and be able to go out and make a difference.
Bill: Great. We talked before the show a little bit about—you mentioned this concept of genetically modified or engineered trees. So what have you been thinking about—that’s a term unfamiliar to me in this sense. Nothing surprises me in today’s world. But talk a little bit about what you’ve been thinking about in this area.
Birke: Yeah. Recently I was at a protest in Asheville, North Carolina during the march against Monsanto big event that was going around the world and there was a bio-tech conference in Asheville the following week, talking about these genetically engineered trees. And it’s a genetically engineered pine, poplar and eucalyptus trees. And it’s made by a company called Arborgen and they’ve had them around the world before but this—right now they’re trying to focus on planting them—getting approved in the US and planting them in the Southeastern United States. I remember someone saying in other parts of the world they’re called green deserts because they just zap all the nutrients from the ground and the only thing that’s green about them is the trees.
Bill: That’s amazing. And, of course, that’s a trend. Once science and scientists start to play the games with productivity…Brian, I that’s why I think we talk a little bit about—we both are sort of free market guys, but unbridled free market, it’s a tough one because you’ve got people on the other end. Remember the ducks?
Bill: They shoot all the ducks. And this is one of those cases where who knows what gets developed and have we crossed the line. I think this is one of those cases to where if people had sort of self-government or the ability to sort of say no internally, they’d maybe say no to the money that can come from the stuff, Birke, from the tree development.
Bill: I mean because look, it’s always a follow the money issue, right?
Brian: It’s follow the money but it’s also pass the buck. I think what I dig the most about Birke, to be honest, is he’s the next generation, right? Because we have an entire generation that thinks “I’m not responsible. No matter what happens, it’s someone else’s fault.” Right? Look at the political structure; look at anything else; who’s going to accept responsibility? I love Birke’s line “Look”, what was that, “You can pay me now or you can pay me later.” You can visit your farmer or you can visit the emergency room. So it’s kind of cool, I think, that Birke, at the ripe old age of 12, started at 11 but now 12, trying to spread the message even though his 14 year old friends, as he says, their eyes glaze over. I think it’s kind of cool that he’s saying “Hey, the buck stops with me. I need to make a choice as to what I’m going to put in my body” and so to walk the talk. So, Birke, I applaud you and like I said earlier, don’t let the critics give you a hard time. That’s what they do, my friend. They’re critics. Right? That’s their job. It’s easier for them to sit and take shots at someone trying to make a difference, such as yourself. So, good on you.
Birke: Thank you.
Bill: Birke, what else is coming up in terms of do you have—you mentioned books. Do you have a book that you’re working on or a book that’s out right now?
Birke: Right now I am a co-blogger with Vani and the Food Babe blog. I’ve put out multiple different blogs and it’s been just hectic trying to do all this speaking and blogging so whenever I can I’m trying to put out some articles on her website and try to share a little bit about what I’m finding out about or what I’m doing.
Bill: Say the name of that website again, would you please, just so people…
Birke: It would be foodbabe.com.
Birke: Yeah. And I’m also—I’m hoping to eventually write another book in the near future, which is going to be mainly—the idea I have is going to be a chapter book that gets—sort of like my kids’ book except more into detail and has more factual information. For those people that want the facts, they can go read that book because I’ll have people pick up the kids’ book and they’ll say “Oh this doesn’t—where’s all the facts behind this?” And I’m like the little kids that are probably going to be reading this don’t care that much about facts and I’m just trying to get some kids interested in what they’re eating and hopefully going out there and making a difference.
Brian: Birke, do you still get to ride your bike? Do you still to play outside? Do you still get to climb some trees?
Birke: Oh yeah. This morning I was out with some friends kicking a soccer ball and riding a bike. So fun. I’m out there being a kid, too. You know, whenever I get the chance it’s still fun to go out there and hang out with my friends.
Brian: Very cool.
Bill: Another quote. Another great quote. You’ve given us a lot of quotes and “Whenever I get the chance I go out there and be a kid.” That’s something that should transcend, not just people your age but everyone should try to play at that a little bit. I think life gets pretty serious once you get older; you get married, you have kids and you’ve got deadlines and budgets and all this stuff. But, boy, you’ve given us a lot of one liners. Why don’t you come up with a book of Birke’s sayings?
Bill: And just those…
Birke: Yeah, I’m going to have to go through all the radio interviews and stuff that I’ve done and just try to start writing them all down because I’ve—sometimes I’ll forget what I say in an interview and my mom will be like “What did you say? What did they ask you?” and I’ll be like “You’ll have to go listen to it when it comes out.” Because I’m just to that point to where I’m like “Yeah, it was an awesome interview and I love talking to those people and asked me some great questions.” And I have to think there for a second and I’m like “Oh yeah, they asked me this and that, too.”
Bill: Which further evidence is the fact that you and your parents—that your parents aren’t sort of controlling you, as your critics are saying, that you’re toting your own gun out there because your mom—you’ve got to tell your mom. It’s not as if you rehearsed. Well I think a lot of people on the outside, Birke, would say, “Look, you rehearsed all this stuff with your overachieving homeschool mom prior to the interview.” And what’s funny is you have to say to her “Yeah, I don’t remember what I said. You’ll have to go back and listen to it.”
Birke: Well, to tell you the truth, my mom is actually out running errands right now. She’s not in the house. So it’s like I’m always—most of the interviews I do she’ll be like “I’ll make sure everybody’s off the home phone and you can talk to the people and have a great time and share what you know.”
Brian: Well, Birke, I’ve got to tell you, one of my favorite quotes is from Ralph Waldo Emerson and he goes “To know even one life breathe easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded. So that when I was on your website, Birke, spelled B-I-R-K-E, on the farm dot com, I liked your line “One kid at a time.” And let me give you one other little bit, if I could. When you watch President Obama, when you watch the head of any state, believe me, they’ve had people that not only wrote their speeches, they’ve had people that they’ve practiced them in front of; they’ve had people that they’ve vetted. So the very next time someone says “Hey Birke, did anyone help you write that?” go “Yeah, me and every president since Abraham Lincoln has had people to practice their speech with, has had people help them with grammar and punctuation and the flow.” So the next time somebody gives you a hard time, you’re right up there with the greatest speakers in the world because we all take an opportunity to have our speech vet before we get out in public. So good for you.
Bill: Well Brian…
Bill: But Birke, don’t you think you should spend some more time with an iPad or an iPod and starting at TV? I think your life would be a lot better if you just watched TV all day and just dropped all this. What do you think about that?
Birke: Yeah, I watch TV and I get on the internet but that’s one thing that I try to limit. I like getting outside and hiking and that sort of thing, too. So I have to have everything hand in hand. And another thing I wanted to say is I’ve never once used a teleprompter.
Brian: I love you, my friend. Neither do I. We were shooting something this morning and everyone said “Put Brian on a teleprompter.” And I said “I’m out of here.” Good for you, Birke. I knew I liked you, my friend. Good for you.
Bill: I think you’re a candidate already. I’m going to go ahead and say this, like some other people we’ve had, some other young people we’ve had on this show, Brian. It’s not—this is an ontological thing. It’s not that you’re going to become a great man, Birke. You already are a great man. So thanks so much for what you’re doing and, Brian, have you got anything else you want to close up with?
Brian: I do. I want to make sure that everyone that knows that Birke Baehr—and again the website—I’ve got a couple of ones to give out, Jeremy. Birke, spelled B-I-R-K-E, on the farm dot com. We’ve been talking about what’s wrong with our food system, which was the TED speech. Also Birke on the Farm: A Boy’s Quest for Real Food. And we didn’t get much of a chance to talk about it, Birke, so we’ll have you back to discuss Bite Size, which addresses the issues surrounding childhood obesity. So ladies and gentlemen, check him out on Facebook, check him out on Twitter. It has been our pleasure for the last half hour to hang out with Mr. Birke Baehr. Birke, farewell my friend.
Birke: Okay, thank you. It was a wonderful time talking to you all.
Bill: Thanks, Birke. You too.
Brian: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to run to a quick commercial break. No, we’re not going to run anywhere. All right, good enough then.
Bill: Yeah we can cut it right there. Yeah, we’ll just cut it off right there. Hey Birke?
Bill: Hey, it’d be great—we’re going to have Joel Salatin come up. We’ve got sort of a market that we do up here and a play sometime. We’re going to have Joel come, I don’t know if we can get him this year. I think we’re still trying to. But it would be great if we could have you come and talk. So I’ll have Sarah maybe look into your schedule; my daughter Sarah who contacted you originally, look into your schedule and we’d love to have you maybe do a talk up here sometime.
Birke: Yeah definitely. I’d love to anytime I can find a place in my schedule. I’ve tried to kind of clear the whole summer schedule mainly for just interviews and trying to relax some because this spring was really hectic. So I was like definitely trying to figure out if I can get some rest time. But, yeah, the interview—I love doing interviews. It’s not that big of a deal, you know, rather than travelling around…
Bill: Sure, sure, sure.
Birke: Yeah, it was great talking to you all and it was just awesome to be able to have you guys’ insight.
Bill: Great to talk to you as well. Godspeed. Thanks so much for your time.
Birke: Thank you.
Brian: All right, Birke. Farewell, my friend.
Birke: Have a great day.
Tony: And welcome back to Off the Grid Radio. I’m Tony Belha, hosting for Bill Heid. And today we have a special guest with us. We have Allen Phillips. Now, Allen is an attorney who has advocated very heavily against the need for vaccines. You know, we come into times where people feel that they—they’re being challenged where they need to be vaccine—have to have vaccines. Especially we’ve seen it with children in schools and now one of the biggest trends we’re seeing is in the healthcare field. People that are in the healthcare field are being required by their employers to get these vaccines, especially flu vaccines, in order to continue to keep their job and stay healthy. And so what Allen is going to tell us a little bit about today is why that should not happen, why they should not be required by their employer to get these vaccines. Allen, take it off.
Allen: I’ll be glad to. And first, Tony, thanks a lot for allowing me to be here today. It’s a real pleasure and honor. By way of just very brief introduction, you know most people, when you talk about vaccines and exemptions, they think about the obvious school enrollment for kids. The vaccines come up in over a dozen different contexts and sub-contexts including, of course, schools, but there’s public schools, private schools, homeschools, military schools, college, college programs for healthcare workers where they have to do clinical studies in local hospitals, clinical work, and all of these areas have different law that can apply. There’s military members, military families, military contractors, civilian contractors, again all these areas can have different laws that applies. And it comes up as well with immigration and, as you mentioned, employees.
And the big area we see movement in, particularly large movement in, beginning this last fall and I think even more so this year from what I’m seeing so far, has to do with healthcare workers. Hospital workers primarily all over the country are being required to get flu shots or lose their jobs. And it’s fascinating and disturbing at the same time for me, this particular issue, because what’s going on is the Department of Health and Human Services at the national level; of course many states have their own state Department of Health and Human Services. At the national level, DHHS has a stated goal in what they call their ‘Healthy People 20/20 Initiative’ to vaccinate 90% of healthcare workers in the country with the flu vaccine.
Allen: So Tony, they have a separate stated goal to vaccinate all employees in the US with the flu vaccine. And there are people speaking up right outside of mainstream medical America, people who have no problem with vaccines generally, who are saying “What the heck is going on with this flu shot thing?” Now let me give you just a couple of examples. There’s a Lanset study back in 2011 that found that flu shots are only about 60% effective. I saw an article written by a medical doctor who assessed that study. First of all the 60% figure is rounded up and second of all the 60% figure represents what they call a relative risk reduction. What the actual risk reduction was a trivial 1.5%; in other words, the vaccine is virtually ineffective by that study. But last November there was a critical review in the International Journal of Family Medicine and they concluded the arguments for uniform healthcare worker influenza vaccinations are not supported by the existing literature, referring to the medical literature. And they say the decision whether or not to get vaccinated, except maybe in extreme situations, should be up to the individual healthcare worker and they specify “without legal, institutional or peer coercion”. But what I’m hearing from healthcare workers all over the country…and this past fall, Tony, I worked with about 150 healthcare workers from 26 states at last count, and I’m hearing the same thing from all over the country that this policy is being implemented rapidly, being rammed down the throats of healthcare workers all over the country whether it makes sense or not. And at least one hospital attorney explained to me that Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements can be cut by as much as 2% if the hospitals don’t get a 90% vaccination rate.
Allen: So…and this is just—this next comment is a personal opinion of mine. I’ve been looking at the larger vaccine controversies since my 19 year old son was born and I find that the deeper I dig the messier it gets. But what I see when I kind of step back and look at the whole picture here, it doesn’t look to me like the money issue, the Medicaid/Medicare issue is really what’s driving this. It looks to me like there are—that the money piece is a tool, a technique or tool used to implement what I personally believe is ultimately a non-monetary agenda. But we don’t have to look any farther than the money to see serious problems. In other words, with Medicaid and Medicare reimbursements being on the line, the hospital administrators across the country don’t have the luxury of looking at whether or not this makes sense medically or scientifically.
Tony: Right. They’re looking at the bottom dollar.
Allen: They’re looking at the bottom dollar. So this has been very carefully planned and orchestrated for who knows how long ago and the implementation is now rolling out. But, Tony, what really bothers me the most about this is that the goal from the position of the Department of Health and Human Services is that they want to vaccinate all the healthcare workers and then they can hold that up as a model for the rest of the country, “Hey look, everybody. All your healthcare workers are getting this shot. It must be good. You need to get it, too.”
Tony: Right. All these perceived experts in the field are now getting these shots. Why wouldn’t you? Why would you think that you don’t need one?
Allen: Exactly. But what they’re not going to tell you, which I see in my practice on a regular basis, is that healthcare workers don’t want these shots. Now I don’t have any figures to tell you what percentage are pro and con but let me give you an example of where we can get some reliable information. There’s only one state in the country, Oregon, that has a law that actually prevents hospitals from mandating the flu shot. How they managed to slip that one past the pharmaceutical lobbyists is beyond me but they did. And Oregon, of course, has the lowest flu vaccination rate of any state in the country because everywhere else it’s being mandated. Now sometimes the mandates come from the hospitals themselves and sometimes they’re from state law. More and more states are trying to pass laws mandating flu shots for healthcare workers, but it disturbs me in and of itself for the flu shot. You know they obviously want everybody in the country to be vaccinated with the flu shot. The CDC recommends it for anybody six months of age and older and you’ve got to ask, here’s a vaccine that doesn’t work. What is it that’s in those vaccines that they want in all of our bodies? I’ll leave that question for another discussion, another time. We could both fill in that blank, I’m sure, pretty rapidly ourselves. And I expect many of your listeners could as well.
If you’ve talked about vaccines in the past here you may have heard about the Cochran Collaboration. This is an independent, non-profit, international consortium of medical researchers so they’re not beholden to the pharmaceutical industry or anyone else. They did a review a few years ago, actually published in 2010. They’ve done actually several reviews on the flu vaccine but this particular one in 2010 was looking at the effectiveness of flu vaccines in healthy adults. They came to the conclusion, in fact their conclusion started with the word ‘WARNING’ in all capital letters. And here’s the quote, Tony; “Reliable evidence on influenza vaccines is thin but there is evidence of widespread manipulation of conclusion.”
Allen: I mean that just screams from the rooftops to me that can we even trust the medical literature on this issue at all. But let me take that a step further…
Tony: Now wait a minute…what kind of people conducted that research? You know, give me a broad overview. Are we talking about school teachers or are we talking about government officials?
Allen: Yeah. No, this is an international consortium of medical researchers. In fact, one of the fellows—let me see if I can find or recall his name because he’s been referred to as probably the world’s leading expert on flu vaccines. But these are independent medical researchers, international consortium, and they’re highly regarded in the medical community actually. They’re very much respected.
Tony: These are people with a lot of initials behind their name.
Allen: Well they not only have the credentials but they actually have the clout and respect of their peers internationally.
Tony: Okay. Okay.
Allen: And those are two important and different things. An individual medical doctor can speak out and they might get attacked for doing so but when you have a group such as this, independent researchers who have established themselves within the mainstream world as a credible reliable entity and then they come out with something like this. Now obviously there are people who don’t like these kinds of conclusions who will look for ways to discredit or discount and so forth. So those sort of interactions are inevitable in a world political as ours is. Nonetheless, it’s not somebody that anybody can just write off as a bunch of wackos for sure.
Allen: So…yeah. So tons of information; in fact there was just an article earlier this year published in the British Medical Journal, one of the most prestigious medical journals in the world today. And a researcher from Johns Hopkins University was very, very critical of flu vaccines and the aggressive promotion of the influenza vaccine, which he says, as well as these other sources I just mentioned, is not supported by the medical literature. And he goes a step further saying that the aggressive promotion of the flu vaccine fails to acknowledge the serious vaccine risks. And let me just clarify that for a minute. We have in this country a vaccine injury compensation program that was enacted into federal law by Congress back in 1986. It has paid out and pays out on average about a hundred million dollars a year to vaccine victims and their families; people who are seriously injured, permanently disabled or killed by vaccines.
And this VICP, for short, Vaccination Injury Compensation Program, they have a federal website. You can go to the website. They show this statistic. You can see how many dollars were paid out each year for each of the covered vaccines and there are hundreds of people who have been compensated for injury and death by flu vaccines. So with this mantra we hear over and over from the CDC and other so-called authorities who say “Oh the vaccines are safe and effective.” No they’re not. I mean, maybe they are, maybe they aren’t in any given instance. But the bottom line here, and this to me is a profound ethical issue and really the essence of why I do the work I do. It’s a clear established medical and legal fact that vaccines cause permanent disability and death. So we could very reasonably ask going no further than that, should anybody ever be required absolutely to get a vaccine.
Now, Tony, right now we’ve been in a so-called war on terror for how many years? We don’t even require adults to join the military to risk their lives to protect this country but we require right now newborn babies to risk their lives by getting a Hepatitis B vaccine. And I don’t know about you, Tony, but I have never seen a newborn baby who was an intravenous drug user or who was sexually promiscuous. So it really makes no sense to me why you want to give a newborn child a Hepatitis B vaccine other than the more cynical view of “Well we could make a lot of money doing that.”
Allen: But children are injured and killed by that vaccine and nobody can tell you whether your child is going to be the next one injured or killed or not. But you’re supposed to do that because your vaccine supposedly protects other people.
Tony: Now I want to recap on something you said before. You were talking about a vaccine has been known to create permanent disability or even death. Now, one thing I’m thinking about is as I sit and watch a Zoloft commercial, they tell me—they rattle off a whole bunch of things that this drug could give me because that’s what the CDC says they have to do. They have to tell me what all these different symptoms or all these different things that can happen to me by taking this drug. Now when I go and I get a vaccine, if I were to go and get a flu shot somebody’s not sitting there and telling me that this can cause permanent disability or death, are they?
Allen: In fact if you ask about that they’ll just say “No, it’s perfectly safe.” But I hear from the healthcare workers themselves who say “I got a vaccine and it did cause me a health problem and now I’m dealing with this health problem.” Or they’ve seen it in their peers. There’s actually federal law that requires pediatricians or anyone else administering a vaccine to a child to give you a piece of paper that spells out the risks and benefits. Now I’ve seen some of those papers and they’re highly skewed. But I hear over and over again from people around the country, from parents, they say “No one ever gives you these papers anymore.” The doctors are violating the federal law on a regular basis. There’s no enforcement mechanism for this. There’s no penalty. In fact, there’s even been congressional testimony that medical students are told not to report vaccine injuries and they’re required by federal law to do that as well, any suspected injury. And so—but it’s ultimately a—even though it’s a federal requirement, it’s referred to as a voluntary reporting system, I presume, because again there’s no enforcement mechanism. There’s no penalty for not doing that. And what we end up having is that even the FDA and the CDC, officials from those federal agencies having knowledge that as many as 90-99% of vaccine adverse events never even get reported. So when I say the Injury Compensation Program pays out a hundred million dollars a year, that may actually represent a billion or ten billion dollars a year in injury and death caused by a vaccine.
Tony: So their reported payout is just the tip of the iceberg.
Allen: There is very good evidence to suggest that that is an accurate statement. But ultimately we don’t have the data. You can’t count what isn’t reported, you can only estimate it. And this is the estimates that come from the CDC and the FDA. There’s another independent agency or organization, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons or American Association of Physicians and Surgeons; I can tell you I get those first two confused. But they have estimated that something in the order of 90% of vaccine adverse events are not reported as well. So there are multiple sources for this estimate that the overwhelming majority of adverse events never get reported. And so the bottom line is there’s no data out there. You can’t make a risk/benefit assessment because there’s no data to do that. And what the CDC and other organizations and health authorities will tell us is “Oh they’re perfectly safe.” Or if there is the occasional injury or death, one in a gazillion, whatever number they want to make up they’ll say “The benefits far outweigh the risks.” There’s no data available to make that conclusion….
Allen: …to make that calculation.
Tony: Now you’ve taken a lot of cases. Tell me some of your real life experiences with these risks. What are these risks? What are people coming to you with? What’s happened to them because they’ve gotten some type of vaccine? I mean, especially the flu vaccine.
Allen: Well, let me clarify first of all that my work as an attorney is focused almost exclusively on vaccine exemptions and waivers in all these different areas that I alluded to earlier. I don’t work vaccine injury cases. There are many attorneys and firms around the country that will handle vaccine injury cases. So I have some familiarity with the law there and how that system works but it’s not something that’s a part of my daily activity.
Tony: Right. Maybe I should’ve said what are their fears. What are people afraid of these vaccines?
Allen: Well people are afraid of being injured or killed by them. And that is a legitimate fear because there is solid evidence both that that occurs and that we don’t have any idea what the level of risk really is because so much of it isn’t reported. But it’s not just a question, for many people, of what they don’t want. There are more effective, less expensive and far safer alternatives. If this was the only alternative and we thought that they were effective, they were just risky, there would be some basis for a serious discussion or conversation about which vaccine should we do and how often and when and so forth. Now I’m not—I don’t take the position that nobody should ever do a vaccine. I have a personal position that’s very much on one end of the spectrum. My concern though professionally and publicly is about the right to make an informed choice. We’re seeing laws being passed rapidly around the country that are not only requiring more vaccines for more people, more for children and more new categories of people; adults, healthcare workers, childcare workers, teachers. There’s no light at the end of this tunnel. There’s always more people to require to get vaccines and more vaccines for everyone to be required to get. But we’re seeing laws being passed not only to mandate more vaccines but they’re also taking away our right to make any sort of choice or to refuse vaccines. They’re making it harder and harder to exercise exemptions. It’s a disturbing trend.
I had a figure from earlier this year, Tony. There are about 250 vaccines that are either waiting for approval by the FDA or in clinical trials.
Allen: And let me give you the real quick overview here. The federal government subsidizes vaccine research and development, billions of dollars a year to subsidize this industry. The federal government makes the vaccine manufacturers free from liability. They are virtually completely free of liability for anything that goes wrong with their vaccines, anybody who gets hurt or killed by a vaccine. The federal and state governments purchase vaccines. The federal and state government mandates vaccines and the federal government picks up the tab when they do pay for injury or disability caused by a vaccine. This is an enormous incestuous relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and government at both the state and federal levels. It’s just an enormous racket. The door has been opened broad, as wide as it possible can be. We’re going to pay you to develop these. We’re going to buy them from you. We’re not going to let you have any liability. There’s no wonder that there’s 250 vaccines ready to jump out of the gate and there’ll probably be another 250 after that in the next few years. The global vaccine market is projected to grow at a rate of about 12% annually for the next five or so years. Those are the projections that I’ve seen. And no wonder because the gates have been thrown wide open. Very very disturbing conflicting conflicts of interest here.
Tony: So what you’re saying is when something goes wrong with a vaccine it’s not on the creator of the vaccine. There’s no responsibility on their part. What it comes back to is it’s taxpayer money going to remedy these situations.
Allen: Yes. Now the way they have it set up is they have what they call a tax on vaccines that creates the money in this fund that pays people injured and killed by vaccines. But who pays for that tax? We do when we buy vaccines directly; the government does when they buy vaccines. So…
Tony: So if you go and get a vaccine and you get taxed, you’re basically what? Paying into your own insurance policy for…?
Allen: Well there’s a separate—when Congress set up the Injury Compensation Program they actually set up an independent court system. There is a vaccine court system in our country, part of the federal court of claims, does nothing else but review vaccine injury cases. We have a fund that does nothing else than pay for the death and disability when somebody petitions this system because they believe they’ve been injured or their family member’s been killed by a vaccine. If they are successful with that petition, the money comes out of this fund that comes from a “tax on the vaccines”. But who pays the tax? That’s not the pharmaceutical industry paying that. They’re just going to add that to the cost of their—the price for their vaccines; so that’s you and me paying for it either directly when we buy a vaccine or through our taxes when the government purchases vaccines.
Tony: Yeah. Allen, what that is, is that’s a game where you have three red Solo cups and one ping pong ball. That’s what that is. They’re shuffling around that money to see—you know, the ball goes here, where does the money go? And you’ve got to try to catch that rabbit trail. That’s just absolutely crazy.
Allen: It really is. And if you throw morality and ethics out the window, which is obviously something that the pharmaceutical industry can do quite easily even though you and I couldn’t, it’s the best business deal you’ll find anywhere on the planet. At least the best of those that we can see.
Allen: (Inaudible 0:53:28)
Tony: If anybody could open up a business with absolutely no risk, I think everyone would be opening all kinds of businesses around the world.
Allen: And what we see is more and more industries around the world—for example, China is taking note of this and trying to develop vaccines to compete with Western companies because they see this huge market and wide open door, too. So it’s a pharmaceutical feeding frenzy. Really it’s a feeding frenzy from this incestuous industry/government relationship.
Tony: Okay, Allen, we’ve got about five minutes left here. I want to direct people to your website and also you have an eBook available, right? The Authoritative Guide to Vaccine Legal Exemptions?
Allen: I sure do. Tony, my website is vaccinerights.com. Vaccinerights.com and the eBook is on the website. To the best of my knowledge, Tony, I’m the only attorney in the country who’s focused on this issue. And to the best of my knowledge my eBook is the only document that provides any in depth information about how vaccine exemption and waiver law works. And there’s some general background that’s applicable to the law generally, to exemptions and waivers generally and then specific information on all these different areas I’ve talked about. And then another area that I call vaccine custody disputes, where parents—the typical case, parents agree not to vaccinate, they separate or divorce and one decides to go pro-vaccine to try to make the other parent look like a fruit cake and get custody. And I’ve worked with family law attorneys around the country and because they’re just not familiar with this issue and haven’t focused on it, they don’t see the legal arguments that are unique to this specific issue. So there are ways that people, the non-vaccine parents, can win those cases but they’ve got to have the right legal arguments and you won’t get that, in my experience, from your family law attorney. So if you’re in that situation give me a call, folks.
But the eBook, to the best of my knowledge the only document anywhere that provides in depth, authoritative information about how vaccine exemption and waiver law works and I encourage people to do that. I spend an enormous amount of time, Tony, doing radio shows, writing articles, doing legislative activism that I don’t get paid for. So the revenue from the eBook certainly doesn’t cover that but it certainly helps to support the enormous amount of volunteer work that I do in this arena. So I hope people will consider it both for their own benefit but as well as helping to support me in keeping doing the work that I do.
Tony: Great. Well, Allen, I can’t thank you enough for being with us today and giving us a little insight as to—basically what it comes down to for me is I go back to that saying “Don’t tread on me” and when somebody’s telling you, you have to have a vaccine, if it’s an employer, if it’s a government official, if it’s a doctor; doesn’t matter who it is. But when someone is saying “You have to do this,” hey, it’s me. It’s my body. I put into it what I want. I think you’re doing a great job of trying to advocate and stay ahead of all the forces and making sure that that’s not the case. It’s not something somebody has to do. It has to be something that somebody wants to do or they’re willing to do.
Allen: Amen. I couldn’t have said it better myself and I agree with you 100% there. Thank you so much for having me on. It’s been a real honor and a privilege to have the opportunity to talk to your listeners today.
Tony: All right. Thanks a lot, Allen.
Allen: Take care.