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Treaty Negotiations INC5 Wrap Up SafeMinds Perspectives

Globe handsFrom the Safeminds.org newsletter:

By Eric Uram, SafeMinds Executive Director

So what happened in Geneva at the negotiating session for finalizing language contained in UNEP's international mercury treaty?  In particular, when it came to making real headway on addressing the sources of mercury associated with over-exposed kids?  In brief: not much.  Political will putting people first took a back seat to special interest influence about making profits pretty much across the board. 

To give some background, the process for negotiations, a treaty is similar to the lawmaking process here in the USA, UNEP Treaty negotiations allow everyone access to the process. 

Just as with federal and state legislatures, access to government officials outside of the negotiations is allowed, and written and face-to-face communications took place in many countries where interests had a presence. 

Similar to elected legislators, only treaty delegates can add, amend or remove treaty language.  Intergovernmental organizations (similar to federal or state agencies) including UNIDO, UNITAR, WHO and other UN affiliates and the UNEP Treaty Secretariats get greater access (and influence) with the delegates, but are still prohibited from participating in negotiations on any specific language. 

The process considers all others, including non-government organizations (NGOs, such as SafeMinds) only as observers, allowing us to monitor the process, but allowing extremely limited opportunity to address the delegations. 

The negotiations approval process uses consensus instead of a majority rules approach.  Any change in language can only occur under consensus from all parties - so adding or removing language requires everyone present to allow it.  This means one nation could veto any proposed addition or deletion of language even if everyone else wanted it. 

SafeMinds goal in participating, in addition to helping motivate a strong treaty that would effectively address mercury pollution from human activities to reduce negative neurological outcomes, was to seek a call for eliminating purposeful uses resulting in excessive direct exposures.  These included all mercury-containing pharmaceutical and personal care products (such as eye makeup and OTC eye, ear and nose sprays and drops), mercury in dental restorations (silver amalgam) and mercury-based vaccine preservatives. 

Peer-reviewed published research demonstrating health problems from exposure to the levels of mercury present in these products are compelling enough that we felt decisions on continued uses should require the exercising of the precautionary principle.  Lastly, SafeMinds felt any intentional mercury exposure during the pre/post natal window, especially when coupled with other toxic exposures, whether intended or not, has potential to change an individual's health trajectory over their entire lifetime and should therefore be avoided. 

SafeMinds felt these items had readily available, cost-effective alternatives.  Numerous documents submitted by SafeMinds during the treaty process spelled out our concerns and the opportunities.  Much of this information remains available on the UNEP website.    

In a huge setback to advocates calling to end its use and developing nations required to maintain using it, the final version of negotiated treaty language regarding Thiomersal or Thimerosal® use in vaccines (TCVs) contained a "permanent" exemption that can be challenged at any future session by the parties of the treaty - something done every 5 years. 

Regarding dental amalgam, options for a phasedown are in place giving hope that TCV issues can receive the same treatment.  Delegates currently left an open end-date for use, but having it listed requires regular review and the potential for elevation to phase-out and the eventual termination of amalgam use in all party nations.  Once this policy trail is blazed, it should result in an easier effort to follow.  

For personal care products, exemptions remain for anything falling in line with FDA guidelines.  Eye makeup can still contain up to 65 parts per million (ppm) mercury and the use of Thimerosal in other OTC products, except topical disinfectants, failed to get any mention.  The treaty also bans mercury as a biocide in any application except in thimerosal.

The rest of the treaty addressed the control of emissions, elimination of uses by small-scale gold-mining and major industrial processes as well as the cleanup of contaminated sites.  Real world success here will depend on either national efforts to address them or the assistance developed economies can provide to nations with economies in development or transition.  Good outcomes will require some actions by nations on their own.  That said, many countries say they cannot meet all potential obligations without some assistance.  As the treaty moves through conferences of parties, changes will occur to how implementation will proceed.     

In short, the treaty is not a flying start, but the world now agrees it is time to move forward and find solutions to our rising global mercury dilemma.

In the final outcome, SafeMinds as well as other groups focusing on the Thimerosal issue including CoMeD, United Methodist Church, and BioAutismo (and many others), were able to educate a whole new group of individuals, many in leadership positions, to increase the public voice speaking on health issues related to mercury exposure (including from vaccines) and enhance the need for vigilance while encouraging demand for research into the potential negative outcomes from vaccine-levels of mercury exposure.  Many delegates and NGOs were unaware of the presence of mercury in vaccines until the INC negotiations.  Many now have an appreciation of the need to find Thimerosal substitutes or the means to eliminate all preservatives, mercury or not, from vaccines.


Jim Thompson

Does this sound like Safeminds?

See "Eric Uram, Executive Director at SafeMinds.org, Responds to the World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics' Support for Continued Use of Mercury in Vaccines" "...As a result, SafeMinds continues calling for nations to support language in the treaty initiating a phasedown approach for eliminating all forms of mercury from use in pharmaceutical and personal care products, including vaccines." http://www.biospace.com/News/eric-uram-executive-director-at-safeminds-org/284230

To the contrary there was an agreement 14 years ago "that thimerosal-containing vaccines should be removed as soon as possible." It still hasn’t happened.

From an earlier AoA comment:
“Flu vaccines still contain mercury, even though there was an agreement 14 years ago to remove Thimerosal from all vaccines as soon as possible.

‘The US Public Health Service (USPHS), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and vaccine manufacturers agree that thimerosal-containing vaccines should be removed as soon as possible.’

But based on estimates for 2012-2013, approximately 86 million doses of Thimerosal preserved flu vaccine will be distributed in the United States. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/about/qa/vaxsupply.htm .

Each Thimerosal preserved flu shot has the same mercury by weight as one half cup of D009 mercury hazardous waste. And 86 million doses have the same mercury by weight as 2.5 million gallons of mercury hazardous waste. These are the 2012-2013 doses available for injection into children and pregnant women.

Mercury kills brain cells. Everyone please write your Senators and House Representatives and ask them to legislate a ban on the use, import, and export of mercury in vaccines. http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml


SafeMinds committed an inexcusable breach of trust in its failure to stand strongly against mercury. It doesn't matter whether the odds were against you or the process of the conference was exclusionary. It was your obligation to call for immediate elimination of mercury in vaccines and back up your call with the devastating and readily available facts about mercury toxicity in infants and children. Your donors are all too aware of those facts and it was incumbent upon you to present them starkly and with urgency, regardless of the odds of success. It was not your place to equivocate, you were there to tell the truth. You FAILED.

The phrase lead, follow, or get out of the way comes to mind. Phasedown? Five more years until this policy comes up for review again? How many more children around the world will be damaged in those five years?! Can you honestly say you did your best under the circumstances?

Jim Thompson

This report concludes that Safeminds’ results included being able to “enhance the need for vigilance while encouraging demand for research into the potential negative outcomes from vaccine-levels of mercury exposure [each Thimerosal preserved shot contains 50,000 parts per billion mercury by weight].”

ATTENTION SAFEMINDS: Mercury kills fish at 8 parts per billion.

That research was done in 1939! (See http://jeb.biologists.org/content/16/4/425.full.pdf ).

Call for the ban on mercury in vaccines now!

John Stone

Hi Cherry

It is absolutey horrific that Heidi Larson could base her defence of thimerosal on Pichichero's pathetically designed, falsely premised and hopelessly conflicted study of 2002. I wrote about it here:


And Jim Thompson wrote about Pichichero here:


When I saw Larson's article in New Scientist, and the desperate scurry of media activity ahead of the final negotiation I thought they were in trouble. They certainly ought to have been.

One of the other things I notice is that Bill Gates is actually an immensely unpopular figure and yet somehow is supposed to add credibility to all of this.


I should have added the size of the Pichichero study was ridiculous as well.

Jim Thompson

John Stone:

As you wrote on AoA earlier, Heidi Larson published an article “Poison Pill: Not all mercury is toxic.”

(See http://www.ageofautism.com/2013/01/not-all-mercury-is-toxic-desperate-throw-in-new-scientist-to-prevent-un-ban.html and http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21728990.200-poison-pill-not-all-mercury-is-toxic.html ).

Her declared focus includes “rumor management in health programs and technologies, especially vaccines.”

(See http://www.lshtm.ac.uk/aboutus/people/larson.heidi ).

But her article provides no scientific basis to counter the AAP 2001 published statement by Lynn R. Goldman, Michael W. Shannon and the Committee on Environmental Health:

“Mercury in all of its forms is toxic to the fetus and children, and efforts should be made to reduce exposure to the extent possible to pregnant women and children as well as the general population.”

(See http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/108/1/197 ).

Cherry Sperlin Misra

I dont know if any of you recall, but at least a year back there was a very brief comment on AOA stating that the real intention of the vaccine makers is to keep mercury in the vaccines and then withdraw the non mercury vaccines. I believe that this relates to the third world. The first part of the statement has come true - now lets see what comes of the second. I am particularly curious to see what happens in India, because in the cities here, many- perhaps about 70-80% pediatricians have changed to imported vaccines with less or no mercury. I think both the parents and the pediatricians are happy with this situation.
Regarding Pichichero- it would be nice to have some information about him. Is he not the person , about whom Dr. Boyd Haley wrote " The only thing they proved is that they dont know how to measure anything."
And here is a very interesting quotation from Ken Allan, who has done a lot of work researching the relationship of mercury and Parkinson's disease : Ken says that when he would write to a researcher, mentioning Parkinson's, he would usually get a reply, but when he mentioned dental amalgams, he never got a reply, except for one researcher in New Zealand, Dr. Michael Godfrey, who had this to say : "There are people on the planet who have financial fears regarding mercury and they have huge resources to lobby at the highest levels. These people include the tertiary insurance industry and thus world banking. They are far more of a problem than the American Dental Association with their ego fears of being shown to have been wrong for 160 years."
and by the way, this also mirrors the response that some of us got when we tried to write to Kawasaki Disease sites about mercury in vaccines. You simply dont hear back.
Dr. Paul G King of CoMeD has explained that what KD actually is- inflammation of the blood vessel linings by mercury.
I would much recommend that any of you who have not yet looked at the work of Ken Allan or Bernard Windham, and others associated with the problem of mercury toxicity by dental amalgams- Take a look. You may get some good ideas for the treatment of autistic kids.


Why is there no mention anywhere in this article that SafeMinds advocated a phase-down of mercury rather than a ban? Even if SafeMinds thought it was a long shot (no pun intended) to request a ban, they should have taken that stand and let the phase-down be the compromise position. Instead, they went in asking for a phase-down and ended up with nothin'. This should be Negotiations 101.

Furthermore, no autism organization should endorse any amount of mercury being injected into a child. So the phase-down position was wrong on principle, as well. It sends the wrong message.

Bad enough

The bureaucratic process is obviously the only alternative to "rule by the few" but it's all so heavily influenced by industry that the point is nearly moot. So now, with the "philanthropic" vaccine push abroad, the third world can be subjected to more and more mercury laced shots and can share in the wonders of mass, man-made disability?

People need to understand what's going on and understand the process, so it's good to clarify (though next time, spelling out acronyms would help the average person follow). But it's depressing nevertheless-- the world is in the dark ages arguing about the toxicity of a material that's been known for centuries to be a deadly poison.

Jim Thompson

Why is the world not outraged when the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) uses "Minamata" as the name of their convention that promotes the continued injection of mercury (Thimerosal, a mercury based vaccine preservative) into children and pregnant women? http://www.unep.org/newscentre/default.aspx?DocumentID=2702&ArticleID=9373

"The most famous photo was that of Kamimura Tomoko in the bath, cradled by her mother. Born in 1956, Tomoko suffered from mercury poisoning. Mercury had entered her bloodstream through the placenta, leaving her blind, deaf, and with useless legs."

"The morality that pollution is criminal only after legal conviction is the morality that causes pollution."

W. Eugene and Aileen Smith, Minamata: The Story of the Poisoning of a City, and of the People Who Chose to Carry the Burden of Courage, 1975.

concerned citizen

I expect that this treaty will serve as a green light for big pharma to add more thimerosal and other toxins to vaccines and hide this info from the public. The only answer to this should be massive refusal of all vaccines, as none is safe. IMO, this is intentional poisoning of children.


whores of Babylon.

John Stone

It is obviously more than disappointing 14 years after the problem of thimerosal containing vaccines was publicly identified and 21 after the Hilleman memorandum that we don't even have a timetable for a phase-out. To have a phase-out without a timetable over dental amalgams is also not much better. What we learn from this is that even trying to be "moderate" cuts little ice, and this was really the last opportunity. But it also shows up how little is the real concern for children on the other side of this debate. This is a toxic substance being administered in toxic quantities to babies, and no one at the top seems to even want to talk about stopping do it.

In the UK they phased-out thimerosal vaccines after a three year delay from when it first got into our newspapers as an issue. The Department of Health seemed pretty indifferent to public relations during that period so my best guess is they concluded secretly that it was doing damage which would cost the British state. But they were happy to go on exporting it to "developing nations". The attitudes are perhaps even worse than at the time of high imperialism. It is two centuries since slavery was abolished, but this seems just as brutal.

Intellectually, these people were tottering - the best Heidi Larson could do in her New Scientist article was cite a WHO statement from 2006 based on Pichichero's mightily flawed and conflicted 2002 article. It should not have been possible.

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