Robert De Niro and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. participated in a press conference earlier this week discussing the dangers of vaccines and the idea they actually make children sick. While many discredit the controversial theory that immunizations cause autism and other adverse health conditions, Kennedy and De Niro want proof and will give $100,000 to anyone who can provide it.
Citing numerous studies that supported his beliefs, Kennedy claimed vaccines are dangerous and have "caused the autism epidemic." During the 20-minute speech, Kennedy blamed journalists and the government for keeping the truth about vaccine safety hidden.
According to a Huffington Post article, De Niro seemed to agree.
"I'm glad I'm here. I thought what Bobby said was great. It was eloquent. I couldn't have said it better myself. I agree with him 100 percent. Thank you."
Earlier this year, Kennedy met with then President-elect Donald Trump to discuss creating a vaccine safety commission. However, the commission to be made up of people "with the highest integrity" has yet to be formed. Shortly after the meeting, the Trump administration received a letter written by 350 medical organizations promoting the benefits of vaccines, citing multiple studies that verified the safety of immunizations.
Robert De Niro, whose son has been diagnosed with autism, faced stark criticism after supporting Vaxxed, a film that linked vaccinations with autism. The anti-vaccine documentary was included at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. However, as complaints about the film mounted, it was removed from the schedule.
Vaxxed was directed by Andrew Wakefield, a physician who first established the idea of a connection between autism and vaccinations in a 1998 study. However, Wakefield could never provide definitive evidence of the theory. The study was eventually discredited and his medical license was revoked. Despite the controversy, De Niro continued encouraging people to see the movie, and the actor doesn't seem to have changed his stance.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stated there is no connection between vaccines and autism. Many studies also support the claim. Additionally, thimerosal hasn't been used in children's vaccines for nearly 16 years, with the only exception being a specific type of flu vaccine.
Calling the CDC a "vaccine company," Kennedy contends the government, pharmaceutical companies, and doctors are behind a conspiracy to withhold the truth about vaccines from the public. He maintains that journalists take the word of the CDC without questioning the evidence.
"On one hand, the government is telling pregnant women which mercury-laced fish to avoid so that they don't harm their fetuses, and on the other, the CDC supports injecting mercury-containing vaccines into pregnant women, infants and children," Kennedy said at a press conference on Wednesday, as reported by the New York Daily News.
Kennedy's organization, World Mercury Project, has uncovered 240 studies that determined thimerosal is a neurotoxin. Of the 240 studies, 81 found an association between the substance and autism.
Emerging studies contradict any autism links with vaccinations. Mounting research is now suggesting slight brain differences associated with autism may be detected in infancy, long before the administration of any immunizations. According to one study published in Nature, it is possible for MRI scans to predict autism by measuring volume changes in certain regions of the brain. Other studies point to certain differences in brain cell development before birth may be related to autism.
Yet, even this new research hasn't slowed the anti-vaccination movement. In the face of these studies, Kennedy and De Niro still want proof that current vaccines are safe and offer a $100,000 cash reward to anyone that finds a "peer-reviewed scientific study" that validates thimerosal isn't causing autism or other disorders in children.
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