SafeMinds — A Timeline 1999 through 2005

April 30, 2014

For those of you who have not been involved in the autism community since the 1990s, we would also like to provide background on our early efforts to advocate for the removal of thimerosal from all medical products including vaccines in the US and globally, to obtain justice for a generation of children who have been harmed, and to fund research aimed at restoring their health.  SafeMinds applauds the efforts of all the families, advocacy organizations, clinicians and scientists who have worked tirelessly to investigate the consequences of exposing a generation of children to excess levels of mercury. Unfortunately, there is still much work to be done to expose the truth and to prevent more children from being injured.  Please feel free to contact SafeMinds if you want to help with these efforts.


1999Founding board members of SafeMinds author the landmark paper that first correlated the symptoms of mercury toxicity and autism. Subsequent versions of the paper were also published in the scientific literature, which created widespread recognition of the concerns regarding the use of mercury in infant vaccines and the associations with adverse neurological outcomes such as autism.

2000SafeMinds worked with the Government Reform Committee to investigate the use of thimerosal in vaccines and provided testimony for the hearing titled Mercury in Medicine:  Are we taking unnecessary risks.  In addition, SafeMinds petitions the FDA to recall all thimerosal containing vaccines.   SafeMinds initiateD numerous high profile meetings with the FDA, NIH and CDC to share concerns regarding the continued use of thimerosal in vaccines and becomes aware of the fact that the CDC National Immunization Program was currently investigating associations between infant exposure to thimerosal containing vaccines and adverse neurological outcomes.  SafeMinds files the first Freedom of Information Act request for all materials including drafts, used to conduct the investigation. Numerous additional FIOA documents and appeals were also filed in an attempt to review access to the actual Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD) files used by the CDC to conduct their investigation.

2001SafeMinds begins to periodically receive multiple boxes of documents including internal emails, charts, and numerous versions of the thimerosal VSD data, including what is referred to as the Generation Zero data.These “Generation Zero” analyses compared disease risk in the highest exposure population groups to disease risk in zero exposure population groups. In an email obtained in the documents dated December 17, 1999 titled “It just won’t go away” Dr. Verstraeten informs the team of CDC investigators that “these neurological outcomes are very much related (odds of having one when also having the other go from 20 to 100!) As you see some of the RR’s increase over the categories and I haven’t yet found an alternative explanation.” The elevated risk of autism for the highest exposure levels at one month ranged from 7.6 to 11.4 times the zero exposure level.  In subsequent analysis the zero exposure groups were removed through alterations in the entrance criteria making it mandatory that children in the study must have received vaccines to be enrolled in the study.

Also, included in the documents received by SafeMinds were the now historic minutes to the Simpsonwood meeting called, Scientific Review of Vaccine Safety Datalink Information that took place on June 7-8, 2000.  During this meeting Dr. Verstraeten presented his findings to a closed group of CDC and HHS officials, selected outside experts many of whom had close ties to vaccine manufacturers and representatives from all five major vaccine manufacturers. The Simpsonwood meeting, ostensibly designed to be a careful review of a CDC analysis on the impact of thimerosal-containing vaccines on child development, instead became a vehicle for making numerous deliberate choices that took positive findings in a single direction, towards insignificance. Access the Simpsonwood Transcript here:  Part 1 – Transcript  Part 2 – Appendix

2002SafeMinds shares the FOIA documents with select members of Congress and with anyone who we thought might be able to help us work on this issue, which included hand delivering a box of CDC FOIA documents to Dr. Mark Geier and his son David Geier.  Sacred Spark by Rev. Lisa Sykes, Pg 74, “Mark, David, here!  I’ve brought these for you to look at” declared Lyn, foisting the package into David arms…  “These are documents that SafeMinds obtained through the Freedom of Information Act . ” More recently, SafeMinds Director Lyn Redwood hosted Brian Hooker into her home for several days in 2012 and provided a high speed scanner and full access to thousands of pages of documents obtained over the past decade by SafeMinds.

2003SafeMinds shares FOIA documents with the law firm of Waters & Kraus.  The firm subsequently filed the first lawsuit alleging that thimerosal caused neurological damage to an infant who was later diagnosed with autism. Waters and Kraus, via discovery, obtained internal pharmaceutical documents which outlines decades of information documenting safety concerns with thimerosal that were ignored.  Download here.

SafeMinds Board Member and Legal Counsel, Liz Birt, works with the Government Reform Committee to conduct a three year investigation into the use of thimerosal which began after the July, 2000 hearing. In May 2003, the Committee released the Congressional Report Mercury in Medicine-Taking Unnecessary Risks, which concluded by saying, “Thimerosal used as a preservative in vaccines is likely related to the autism epidemic. This epidemic in all probability may have been prevented or curtailed had the FDA not been asleep at the switch regarding the lack of safety data regarding injected thimerosal and the sharp rise of infant exposure to this known neurotoxin. Our public health agencies’ failure to act is indicative of institutional malfeasance for self-protection and misplaced protectionism of the pharmaceutical industry.

2004SafeMinds along with CoMed, National Autism Association and other autism organizations contacted the U.S. Office of Special Council (OSC) to initiate an investigation into the use of thimerosal in infant vaccines.  Special counsel, Scott Bloch, was concerned with the allegations and documents but according to the rules of the US OSC lacked jurisdiction unless a Federal employee came forward as a witness. He wrote a very strong letter to then HELP Chairman, Sen. Judd Gregg and Cong. Joe Barton, then Chairmen of the Committee on Energy and Commerce strongly requesting a Congressional investigation.

2005SafeMinds Director Lyn Redwood testifies before a Congressional Committee during the hearing “Truth Revealed:  Scientific Discoveries Regarding Mercury in Medicine and Autism” and reviewed CDC FOIA documents obtained by SafeMinds including the Generation Zero data that found the risk of autism for the highest exposure levels at one month ranged from 7.6 to 11.4 times the zero exposure levels. (Link to testimony)  Recently a Congressional inquiry resulted in a newly released document that collaborates  with SafeMinds earlier FOIA documents showing  a clear and distinct link between thimerosal and autism.

SafeMinds legal counsel Liz Birt and Jim Moody submit documents to the Senator Enzi, then Chairman of the US Senate HELP Committee with the allegations of Criminal negligence in failure to regulate the safety and effectiveness of biological products under Title 42, Ch1, Chapter 6A, Subchapter II., Part F., Subpart 1, Subsection 262, (2), (C).  Criminal negligence in failure to regulate and promote vaccines as provided for under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, Title 42, Chapter 6A, Subchapter XIX, Part 2, Subpart C, Section 300aa-27: Mandate for safer childhood vaccines. Criminal conspiracy to defraud the government by deception or artifice and to obstruct the wholesome administration of the laws and affairs of the United States and criminal obstruction of justice.

In 2007, Senator Enzi released the results of the Senate Investigation., but the report did not specifically investigate the charges outlined by SafeMinds legal counsel.

Stay tuned for part two of this timeline which covers our work from 2006 to the present.  For those who would like to know more about the history of thimerosal please read the provocative New York Times bestseller: Evidence of Harm: Mercury in Vaccines and the Autism Epidemic by David Kirby. The book won an IRE Investigative Journalism Award in 2005 and extensively details the early efforts of SafeMinds and other organizations and individuals who first raised concerns about the use of thimerosal in medical products and vaccines.

For information about SafeMinds’ past and current research click here. (Need to track down the latest version of this and will add)

For links to SafeMinds educational efforts and videos click here.

For information weighing the risks of vaccination and health, visit SafeMinds’ special website at:

To help SafeMinds in our ongoing efforts click here.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons