FIRST DO NO HARM
THE FIRST LESSON TAUGHT TO young journalists pertains to the power of accuracy and fairness. I developed a great reverence for these tenets at a very early age, as I began to chart my course as a writer.
The job of a journalist is to amass research through investigation, to interview as many people as humanly possible, and to present a balanced examination of facts and viewpoints. Then, as they say, one simply must “let the chips fall where they may,” and let the reader or viewer decide.
When I began producing films about medical freedom of choice, I made a conscious choice that I would follow the age-old advice, "Primum non nocere," or, "first do no harm." I vowed that I would never consciously release any information of an illegitimate nature in any of my films. Falsehoods and exaggerations have a half-life of their own; they are toxic to those who seek the truth; and they can re-surface in a multitude of ways detrimental to the cause of health freedom, from an ambush-styled interview on 60 Minutes to a live embarrassment on the Larry King Show.
Whether I like it or not, my films represent every single person who strives for health-freedom. If I slip up—if I make a mistake, I fail millions of people who rely on me to help them see complicated issues more clearly. It’s an awesome responsibility, and one I do not take lightly.
During the filming for the documentary, WE BECOME SILENT, I became aware of many Web sites and other sources making wildly inaccurate statements about the threat of Codex Alimentarius Commission, a group that is comprised of unelected bureaucrats who supposedly represent international “food safety and trade” under the auspices of the United Nations. One so-called “health freedom” website spread confusion by proclaiming that Codex was “already law,” when of course, Codex Alimentarius is not a law, but a set of guidelines enforced mainly through "free trade" agreements in association with the World Trade Organization and others. Other inaccuracies, fueled by taxpayer dollars, emanated from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), members of Congress, and others who supposedly “represent” the American people.
The statements from the FDA came as no surprise because as my film points out, institutional hypocrisy and bias are endemic at the agency. The FDA has a history of distorting reality in order to protect their cohorts in the drug industry, and millions of us are aware of these patterns. Thus, the coddling pronouncements that Codex presented "no threat to American consumers" were expected, because the FDA has repeatedly sabotaged anything which threatens the preeminence of pharmaceuticals.
More troubling to me, however, were the many inaccuracies emanating from certain vitamin trade associations and so-called “leaders” of the health freedom movement. These radiated from numerous vitamin trade associations who were vital and vibrant members of the coalition who turned back the FDAs attempts to impose unlawful regulations on dietary supplements in the 1990s. These days, many of these associations are protecting their business interests—NOT consumers. Their sins of omission and distortion still exist on the Internet, and they could damage the movement forever if left unchecked.
These falsehoods, just like truth, reverberate in innumerable ways. Just ONE factual mistake can set the health freedom movement back years with an unfriendly media. Just ONE misstated claim can undercut years of dedicated work by health-freedom fighters. One error—and the inaccuracies built upon it—can divide us. As a movement of people who demand more health freedoms — not less — we cannot afford such blatant misrepresentations in our midst. We must demand the kind of integrity that has been sorely lacking in the debate about health freedom: from the media, from the trade associations, and yes, from within the health freedom movement itself.
We must insist that facts, not fear or self-serving hype, constitute the dialog on health freedom issues. THIS must be the common ground upon which we commit to work together. THIS will determine who is friend or foe, a help or a hindrance.
To those who claim to represent the millions of dietary supplement users worldwide, well, we have a message for you:
If you are going to speak for all of us, First Do No Harm. . .