WOW! WOW! WOW! That's my first reaction after seeing the wonderful new film BOUGHT by director Bobby Sheehan and producer Jeff Hays. (Full disclosure - I donated to the making of the film and am delighted by the results!)
The documentary covers three important and inter-locking stories, the effects of vaccines on children's health, the criminal activities of pharmaceutical companies in the marketing of drugs as well as the billions of dollars in fines they are often given by the government agencies, but which for them are little more than the cost of doing business, and the unknown effects of genetically-modified foods on humans and nature.
As somebody who grew up during a time when true investigative journalism was very much alive and well, I can't help but be nostalgic for the kind of stories 60 MINUTES used to do. There was no screaming and yelling, just tough questions being asked, while the camera stayed focused on the person being asked the question. If somebody made an assertion which was at odds with that very quaint concept we once used to call "truth", a document would appear on the screen to show the lie.
It's a sad state of affairs when there has been such a collaboration between BIG business and BIG government that it seems we've lost that revolutionary, inquiring spirit which defines so much of what I once thought was the American character. I used to trust the reporters in the media to not only shape my view of the world, but also to occasionally challenge what I thought I knew.
That role has now fallen to independent film-makers like Sheehan and Hays to tell us a story that the media refuses to cover. Using an abundance of subjects, from the parents of children who have received compensation from the government for their vaccine-injured child who has AUTISM, to scientists from our most prestigious universities, and the attorneys who are trying to protect whistleblowers of scientific misconduct, it paints a picture of a research community which has been corrupted by money.
It calls to mind the quote by the seventeenth century writer, Sir John Harrington who wrote, "If it prosper, none dare call it treason." In the film there is a discussion of how pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline received a $3 billion dollar fine for irregularities in the marketing of their drug Paxil, but when one considered that the company had made more than TEN TIMES THAT AMOUNT on the drug, it was difficult to consider the fine as little more than a cost of doing business. There are other stories in this piece, ranging from former pharmaceutical representatives, to researchers who quickly found they were designated "trouble-makers," if they asked the wrong questions and wanted answers to them. Who wants to upset the "gravy train"? And if they close their eyes they can still pretend to be working in the public interest.
The most hopeful story in the piece was the one on the fight against genetically-modified foods, which have scored some significant victories in this country. It is so troubling to learn of pesticides which cause the stomachs of insects to explode being left on our food, as well as to discover that the genes inserted into plants to make a greener lettuce leaf or a redder tomato may also turn on other genes when eaten by humans. An amusing series of anecdotes relate how the rest of the world turns away from these products, even poverty-plagued countries like Haiti.
Hovering over all these questions is a wilful blindness to doing good science by the pharmaceutical and food companies, so that at some later date they may claim ignorance. Toni Bark, an emergency room doctor does an excellent job asking questions of the subjects and sharing some of her own perspective on these issues.
As an autism parent, I find one of the greatest challenges of the life I'm living to be the sense of isolation I have, not just because my child is so different from others of her age, but because of the chain of events which I believe led to her problems, and that I talk about it. BOUGHT shows me that I am not alone. There are other groups who are fighting different fronts in this battle and we need to find each other to coordinate our struggle against a common enemy.
Share BOUGHT with as many people as you can.
Kent Heckenlively is a Founding Contributing Editor to Age of Autism and author of Plague: One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Human Retroviruses and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases. Release date is November 18, 2014. Visit his website at Plague The Book. You can pre-order the book HERE.