Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:00:00):
You can’t Sue the producer of a toxic chemical until science on that chemical and that particular association and the particular harm reaches a certain threshold.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:00:16):
Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman and that’s farmacy with an F. A place for conversations that matter. And if you’re concerned about chemicals in our food, particularly glyphosate or weed killer called Roundup, which is on 70% of our food and has been linked to cancer and microbiome issues and lots more health concerns, then this podcast is going to matter to you. Because it’s with my friend and activist, Lawyer Robert F. Kennedy, Jr who’s an extraordinary guy. We’ve known each other for many years. We’ve traveled the world together. We’ve kayaked and rafted in Peru and Chile. We’ve gone through many adventures, near death experiences, and it’s just been a pleasure knowing Bobby, because not only is he an activist leader environmentalist, but he’s also a heck a lot of fun. So Bobby serves as the president of Waterkeeper Alliance. He’s the chairman of the board and chief legal counsel for the children’s health defense, and of counsel to Morgan and Morgan, which is a nationwide personal injury practice.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:01:17):
He was the chief prosecuting attorney for Hudson Riverkeeper, and when he was involved with the Hudson Riverkeepers, he helped hold General Electric accountable, and had over a billion dollar settlement to make them clean up the Hudson river from all the PCBs they dumped in there. He’s a defender of the environment and children’s health, and he’s had many, many successful legal actions. He was named one of Time Magazine’s heroes for the planet, for his success in helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore Hudson river. This group’s achievement has helped spawn 300 Waterkeeper organizations around the globe. He also was a co-host of Ring of Fire on Air America radio. Well, I was on that show once. He served as a distant district attorney in New York city, he’s worked on environmental issues across America, and has helped many indigenous tribes in Latin American Canada negotiate treaties protecting traditional homelands.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:02:10):
He’s credited with leading the fight to protect New York city’s water supply, and has done so much good in the world. He wrote a number of great bestselling books, including Crimes Against Nature. He went to Harvard Law School. He graduated from the London School of Economics and got his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. And he’s just an extraordinary man. Welcome to The Doctor’s Farmacy, Bobby.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:02:32):
Thank you, Mark. Thanks for having me.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:02:33):
Okay. So, I want to just give people a little bit of a background on glyphosate. Because I recently wrote my book Food Fix, which talks a lot about the farm system, what’s wrong with it. And glyphosate is really at the center of that conversation, because it is a weed killer that’s used on farms to prevent weeds growth, particularly around GMO soy crops, and many other crops. It’s incredible blockbuster chemical from agriculture, it’s been used all over the world. In fact, according to the EPA 220 million pounds of Roundup, which is glyphosate, were used just in 2015. In California alone, there’s more than 10 million pounds used every year. It’s the world most commonly used herbicide, accounts for 72% of all pesticides in agricultural chemicals around the world. And since 1974, we’ve put on 1.6 billion kilograms, more than 3.5 billion pounds, on crops in the United States alone. It’s on 70 different food crops including corn, soy, canola, wheat… So, if you eat a slice of bread, a bowl of Cheerios, a sushi roll, a plate of pasta, slice of pizza, chicken nugget, there’s a good chance one or more of its ingredients was doused in Roundup, or weed killer before it left the farm.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:03:46):
In fact, Cheerios have more glyphosate per serving than vitamin D and vitamin B12 which are added to enrich the cereal. It’s even been in commercial honey. So, it’s a big problem. It’s linked to cancer, it’s linked to all these health issues. So, I would take us back to the origins of glyphosate, and how it’s become such a prevalent chemical, and why it’s so bad for us.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:04:10):
Well, you mentioned the Hudson and my work on the Hudson river. And my first case on the Hudson was getting as you said, General Electric’s PCBs out of the Hudson. The manufacturer of those PCBs was Monsanto. And I’ve had so many cases on Monsanto over the years. I told Mike Papantonio who did the radio show with me, and who is my law partner for many years something really, really big cases including the case that Mark Ruffalo just made the movie about Dark Waters, which my Pap and I represented about 4,000 people and a team of attorneys, who had been poisoned by C8, which is the active ingredient for Teflon, which DuPont had discharged from its plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia and poisoned the entire community, knew it and kept it a secret from everybody.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:05:13):
But anyway, I told Pap at one point, because we were talking about all my different involvements with Monsanto, and I said if my life were a Superman comic, Monsanto would be Lex Luthor, because I feel like I’ve been struggling my whole life. And my first consciousness of Monsanto was when I was a little boy, because I met Rachel Carson when I was a kid. And she came to my house [crosstalk 00:05:42]
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:05:41):
For those who don’t know who’s Rachel Carson.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:05:43):
Rachel Carson was probably a… Most people would say she was the central figure in the environmental movement as a kind of founder of modern environmentalism. She wrote a book, she was an extraordinary woman, she was a brilliant marine biologist. She wrote a whole series of New York Times bestsellers that broke… Every one of them broke records for the length of time on the New York Times bestseller list. She was not only a very gifted marine biologists, and interestingly, she was from, I think Redding, Pennsylvania. And she never saw the ocean till she was 22 years old. But she was 180 IQ, and she was a brilliant writer and a brilliant communicator. And had this gift of empathy for all creatures and-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:06:37):
She wrote Silent Spring, which was the beginning of-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:06:39):
And she wrote Silent Spring, and the silent spring was a really important book because up until she wrote that book, nobody did not believe that the chemical industry was what it pretended to be, which was this huge boon to American prosperity-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:07:01):
Better living through chemistry, right?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:07:02):
Better living… It had helped us win the war against fascism and now it was going to allow us to win the war against the insects and create free food, abundant food for everybody and… She wrote a book that for the first time disclosed Americans in very, very clear language, with very well sourced science. The price we’re paying for that temporary cheap food solution, was actually imposing enormous cost that if we had known about them, we would have never taken the deal. Not only to human health, but that they would… The term silence spring indicated that it was going to eliminate the birds insects and insects, and things that a lot of people didn’t think that we really cared about that much, but she showed us why we should care about it. And in fact, it was a very prescient book. About 90% of birds, songbirds in America have disappeared since she wrote that book. We’re living in a very different world today, than I grew up and then you grew up.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:08:16):
She was attacked viciously by Monsanto, and a lot of people looked at what Monsanto did during the Roundup cases, which… I was just on that legal team, and they said that they, Monsanto, took the blueprint from the tobacco industry. But Monsanto really was the company that created that blueprint. How do you quiet descent against your product? And the tobacco industry did it very masterfully for 60 years by manipulating science, creating doubt and they were able to escape any regulation of a product that was killing one out of every four of its customers who use that product as directed.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:09:06):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:09:08):
So, Monsanto, really, was the master mind for those techniques. And they hired Hill & Knowlton, and Edelman. And they created these PR firms really, from the ground up, and went out to lie to the public, to hire these phony scientists. We call them biostitutes.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:09:29):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:09:33):
To generate tobacco science, junk science, just to sow doubt.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:09:39):
Yeah. That’s what [crosstalk 00:09:39] does too.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:09:39):
And that was their strategy. But one Rachel Carson published this book, and it was published in serial form, in the New York Magazine, and the book was consolidated. And I think it stayed for many, many months on the bestseller list. I remember 62 weeks, or something, that it was number one on the bestseller list. And I could be wrong, but I think that’s right. They mounted a concerted and deliberate attack against her. They sent these white coated lab scientists, medical doctors, every community in the country to lecture about the benefits of pesticides, and how Rachel Carson was crazy. And they went out, and they found third-party front groups with integrity, the institutions in our society who they would secretly co-opt with pay offs, then go out and act on their behalf without their fingerprints on it. And it got the American Medical Association to condemn Rachel Carson. It got Time Magazine, Life Magazine, Sports Illustrated, the American garden clubs, all of them, to attack Carson.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:11:10):
And if you read the contemporary critiques of her at that time, they almost all use the same language. And they often attack her very personally. You’ll read that she’s a spinster, which was the contemporary euphemism for lesbian. So they were really trying to discredit her. And she never defended herself. She was dying of cancer at the time, but I’m very proud that my uncle, President Kennedy stepped in and he defied his own USTA, his department of agriculture, which had already been captured, it was a captured agency, it was all bought and owned by Monsanto, even at that early date. Food industry on the US. And you know that’s a huge problem today. And they were attacking her, and he had to go against them. He got Jerome who was his chief science advisor, to put together a panel of scientists with impeccable credentials through every important and relevant material assertion in her book, and to validate the science. And they came back and they absolutely vindicated Carson, and…
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:12:35):
But at the time that I met her, when she was at[inaudible 00:12:37], she was under attack, President Kennedy’s vindication of her ended up being an important part of planting the seeds for Earth Day, which happened seven years later, and the passage of the Federal Insecticide Fungicide and Rodenticide Act in 1973, and the ban that year of DDT. DDT had wiped out the peregrine falcon, which had gone extinct on the East coast, and of course it was causing health impacts that people didn’t know how to assess or evaluate.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:13:17):
Yeah. On humans.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:13:18):
Right. At Monsanto, it was a flagship product from Monsanto. So the loss of that product, which was the biggest pesticide in the world at that time, was something that they had to quickly repair. And they found at that time, a tank scalant, which is a chemical that was used to remove metals and accretions of calcium and other compounds from the inside of metal tanks, that was glyphosate. And that’s why it hadn’t been developed. But at some point in glyphosate’s history, somebody had thrown a bucket of it out on the lawn, and noticed that it killed everything. And Monsanto took a look at that and said “We can make it a herbicide.” In the first decade of its use, it was a conventional herbicide. Farm workers would strap a tank of glyphosate onto their backs, and they would go through the corn fields. In the early days, right after the planting, when the weeds were competing with the corn saplings, and they would spray the weeds, and kill the weeds to give the corn time to grow high enough, so that weeds could no longer compete. The spraying took place very, very early in the season, before there was any food on that plant.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:14:40):
And then in 1994, at Monsanto glyphosate was not a particularly noteworthy herbicide. At that time, it had many, many competitors. And something changed in 1994, which was that Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready corn. And what would happen is, they would spray this up, they were dumping the glyphosate or the Roundup out on the grass, at one point they noticed there was a weed that was not being killed. And they said that, “That weed is immune to glyphosate. Let’s take a gene out of that weed, put it in corn, and make the corn immune to glyphosate” and that was really the first big GMO crop. And now you could fire all those farm workers, and you could fly an airplane, spraying pesticides, and saturate the entire landscape with just one guy. And everything would die except for the Roundup Ready corn. And it changed the face of agriculture across the planet. Within a few years, most of the corn was Roundup Ready Corn. Virtually all corn grown today is 95, 98% of it is Roundup Ready corn. It’s Monsanto’s corn.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:16:18):
Yeah. They sell the seeds, and they sell the herbicides. It’s a closed circuit. And-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:16:23):
It’s a closed circuit and they also implant… In the seed, they’ve done other genetic manipulations that allow creates a plant that reflects certain spectrums of light. So you can actually fly a plane over the cornfields with a special camera, which is what Monsanto does, they can photograph and they can know from the air, which are Roundup Ready corn, and which corn is natural corn. And they have a list of all the people who have paid for their corn. If you’re a farmer, and you happen to have their crop on your property, and you haven’t paid for it, then they can sue you. That’s one of the things that makes them very notorious. Those laws hit against individual farmers. A lot of times they’ve gotten Roundup corn on their property because of drift. Because the corn drifted onto their property, but it’s not what they bought.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:17:19):
Wait, wait. To recap that, that’s important. So, basically what happens because of wind, there’s a farmer who has regular natural corn, and a farmer who has Roundup Ready corn, and it drifts over to their farm, and it starts growing, and then Monsanto sues them because they’re growing their genetically-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:17:36):
Their seeds have become pollinated by the Roundup Ready-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:17:37):
Their patented seeds.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:17:39):
Right. By the patented that the seeds, have fertilized the seeds, the natural seeds, the heritage corn of the farmer. So, the next year, he’s got a Roundup Ready corn or a large part of it, on his property, and then they just sue him, and make him pay for it.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:18:00):
Slowly are they poisoning farmers. They’re trying to make them bankrupt.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:18:09):
Yeah. And then something happened in 2006. Between 1994 and 2006, Roundup Ready corn, GMO corn, and they developed soy, and sorghum, and barley…
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:18:23):
Everything was Roundup Ready.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:18:24):
Yeah. Everything was Roundup Ready.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:18:25):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:18:27):
Everything, except for wheat. And then in 2006, they discovered that Roundup was a desiccant. And what that means, if you spray it on a crop, it will actually dry out the crop. And one of the big enemies of the farmer, is that if there is rain around the time of harvest, their crops can get wet, and they get moldy, and it ruins the entire silo. And so what Monsanto did is they began telling farmers, “Spray this on the crop, on your wheat, right before harvest, or at the time of harvest.” And it was so popular that about 85% of Roundup that has been used in history has been used since 2006. A large part of that is as a desiccant. And what that meant Mark, is for the first time, they’re spraying it on food. Right at harvest. And for the first time-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:19:32):
Not early in the season when it may have a chance to wash off, but actually just before you’re going to eat it.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:19:37):
Right. And they’re spraying it for the first time on a wheat. Because there was no such thing as Roundup Ready wheat. They’re spraying it on wheat as a desiccant. And so 2006 marks the day when suddenly these gluten allergies began exploding, and the celiac disease and all these kinds of wheat problems that we started seeing it in this country. If you measure it back and say “When did it start?” You can look and draw a red line and that’s 2006, and it’s the year that they began spraying it on wheat. What happened is after the-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:20:13):
And we’ll get into why that is, in a minute. We’ll get into why that is in a minute. We can explain the mechanism.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:20:19):
And we know that Roundup is associated with all kinds of illnesses, right? With gluten allergies, with celiac disease, definitely with nonalcoholic fatty liver cancer, with colon cancers, with kidney cancers, and with many, many other problems. But you can’t sue somebody, you can’t sue the producer of a toxic chemical, until science on that chemical and that particular association and the particular harm reaches a certain threshold. That’s called Daubert. It’s a federal rule, and most of the states have rules that follow Daubert. And what Daubert says is the purpose of Daubert is, you don’t want somebody coming in, and going to a jury, and saying “This perfume made me insane.” Because, they want to make sure that there’s enough science, that you can’t just bring a weird theory, or a marginal theory, into-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:21:38):
So it’s a level of evidence that-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:21:40):
To the jury, and have the jury decide on that. So the judge has to say “The science on this is actually mainstream enough, it has passed the threshold that I’m going to allow you to explain this to the jury.” And so, we couldn’t sue Monsanto, even though we all knew it’s causing all these problems. We couldn’t sue them on it, until 2015. In 2015, the IARC, which is the International Agency for Research on Cancer. I just stopped for a second to tell you who IARC is. IARC is an agency back in, I think it was the seventies, people realized that a lot of things were carcinogenic. They were increasing your risk of cancer, and different countries regulating them all differently. And they were regulating them different substances, and different compounds, and different elements. And they were regulating them with varying degrees of good science. So, that major Western countries said “None of us really has the capacity to round up all the science in the world, and the best scientists, and figure out what’s carcinogenic and what isn’t. So, let’s create all of us together…”
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:23:05):
And that’s part of the WHO, is that right?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:23:07):
Yeah. “… And we’ll create an agency.”and ended up headquartering it in France. And every year it looks at certain associations, at certain vectors. For example, it might look at coffee one year, might look at cell phones one year, it might look at PCBs or whatever, or tetrachloroethylene, or polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or any compound. And it will bring in the best scientists in the world in that area, from every country in the world, and it will assemble all of the literature on that association, will have them read all of that literature, and there may be thousands of this, and then make a determination about whether it’s a definite carcinogen, or whether it’s a probable carcinogen or possible carcinogen, in both… or not a carcinogen in both animals and human beings. It looks at the animal studies separately, and it looks at human studies separately, recognizing that just because something causes cancer in animals, it doesn’t necessarily cause it in humans.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:24:22):
And in order to make the determination that it’s a probable carcinogen in humans, you need both the animal studies, the mechanistic studies, like Petri dishes, et cetera, and then you need the epidemiological studies which is the human population studies. And it takes a lot of science to get to the point where IARC will say that’s a probable carcinogen. And that happened in 2015.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:24:49):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:24:50):
For glyphosate, but with only one association which was on Hutchison Pharma. Even though we have a pretty good idea, it’s causing many, many, many, many, many other problems, and there’s really strong science on those other problems, none of them had hit the threshold or we could take it to a jury. And just because IARC says it is not enough. The judge has to make an in-depth, independent determination. Even though there’re agencies all over the world that take what IARC say as gospel. For example, in California, there’s a law called Prop 65, which says that anything that’s carcinogenic has to be labeled as such at the place where you purchase it. And the way they determine what is carcinogenic and what isn’t, is what IARC says. So, if IARC says something is a probable cause, it has to be labeled so in California. And there are at least 10 nations and probably 50 jurisdictions around the world that do the same thing. That say whatever IARC says, that becomes the law.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:25:56):
You just go with their word. Yeah.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:25:59):
But still the judges in this country are not allowed to say whatever IARC says passes Daubert, they have to make an independent determination.
Speaker 3 (00:26:06):
Hi, everyone. Hope you’re enjoying the episode. Before we continue, we have a quick message from
Dr. Mark Hyman about his new company Farmacy, and their first product, the 10 Day Reset.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:26:15):
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Dr. Mark Hyman (00:27:09):
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Speaker 3 (00:27:22):
Now back to this week’s episode.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:27:24):
Once we got that decision from IARC, a couple of firms mainly[inaudible 00:27:31] here in Los Angeles, another firm called the Miller Firm in Virginia, and Morgan & Morgan, and Weitz & Luxenberg filed suits, and they began collecting cases, and advertising for them. And so, two years ago at about 14,000 cases, they had six firms, and [inaudible 00:27:58] had about 1400, and we filed on a lot of suits.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:28:06):
Now, were these all individuals who had glyphosate exposure and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, or other things?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:28:12):
Oh, only for Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. They had to have Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and they had to have a strong evidence that they had a longterm exposure to glyphosate. And then we chose our first… This is actually a very cool story. You want to hear it. The first case… When you bring these cases, they’re called mass tort litigation. It’s not a class action suit. Each case is treated different and separately, and you try each one individually.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:28:46):
So they’re going to be 14,000 different cases?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:28:48):
So, we would have 14,000 trials, but what happens in practice is after you have tried a sixth or eight of those cases, everybody kind of knows what the case is worth. And the company will then come and settle, because having all those hours trying the cases, it creates so much uncertainty that you want to deal with it.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:29:10):
And this is not a huge impact, because Bayer’s stock, which bought Monsanto, not a very[crosstalk 00:29:14]
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:29:14):
Let me tell you what had happened. We brought this case, and it’s kind of an interesting story, because at the beginning, the six firms were all working together, and we had to decide strategically, where should we bring the first case? And which case should we bring? What’s the best case, that’ll get a good judgment. And there’s another complication because the firm that wins that contest, is the firm that gets the biggest pay off from that case, because he owns the case. We were all going to work on it, but Mike Miller’s firm won the contest. He had sharp elbow, and really good argument, and Dwayne Johnson’s case was a really important case.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:30:01):
And Dwayne Johnson was the first case that was tried [crosstalk 00:30:04]
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:30:04):
Yeah, and Johnson was an African American high school groundskeeper. And part of his job had been spraying glyphosate to control vegetation around the school. As it turned out, he had a backpack dispenser, a tank that was leaking all the time, and sometimes it would cover his whole body. It would kind of explode, and he would be covered with glyphosate, but he wasn’t worried about it because it said on the label that it’s safe, it’s aspirin. And it had a picture of a guy spraying it with no protective gear.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:30:44):
Well, Aspirin kills about 40,000 people a year. So maybe he’s right.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:30:53):
And he got worried because Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is like autoimmune disease. It can attack any organ in your body. With him it had attacked his skin. It was fatal and he hasn’t died yet, but he was … Even when we brought the cases, doctors were saying he had three months to live. His body was covered with… He was a very, very handsome man. And he had a very happy marriage, and wonderful wife, and wonderful kids. And his body was covered with lesions. He loves swimming, but he could no longer swim because he’d gross other people out, who were using a swimming pool. It really destroyed his life in so many ways, and was destined to take his life. And he was a very good plaintiff and the exposure was very clear.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:31:55):
Mike Miller was supposed to bring the case, he’s a Virginia law firm, but about two weeks before we were going to bring the case to trial, Mike Miller who is my age, [inaudible 00:32:05], was injured in a kite surfing accident off of Cape Hatteras. He rigged the kite wrong, upside down, and it lifted him up and slammed him against the pier, and it broke his back, broke a lot of ribs, and he called us from the hospital and said, “We’re going to go forward with the case, but you guys, your firm” which is Baum Hedlund “needs to step up, and take a bigger responsibility,” because he couldn’t be there.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:32:33):
Yeah. And he assigned his partner, Tim Litzenberg to lead the case. And a week later, Hedlund was on the phone with Tim Litzenberg, and he had a seizure while he was on the phone. And it turned out that Baum Hedlund really had to take the lead in the case. I think it was a lucky thing because there was a kid that Baum Hedlun had been working on this case for two years, and Brent Wisner, and he’s a brilliant attorney. He looked kind of like Jonah Hill, and he has a genius mind, and an extraordinary capacity to communicate with it the jury. He is unflappable. He had total command over the science, and had very, very unusual ability to be able to translate very complex concepts that people who may not even have a high school education…
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:33:43):
Yeah. Could get.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:33:43):
And the first case which he had was in San Francisco. He had that trial, and he asked the jury in the end, for 300 million. We were saying, “Brent, you can’t ask him that much.” Because that’s a big strategic consideration at the end of a trial, how much he asked because if you ask too much, it’s an act of overreaching, and the jury may punish you. Right? And he said, “I’m going to ask for 300 million.” He asked for it, they gave him 289 million. He was a very highly educated jury, they had a couple of working scientists on the jury and other people who are very… all college educated, many advanced degrees. The next trial, Amy [inaudible 00:34:28] tried the next trial in federal court in San Francisco, and we expect that we couldn’t lose that case. But it was very hostile to her, and we couldn’t read the jury very well. We went to 89 million in that. It was two and a half months later.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:34:48):
The third trial, we tried in Oakland, and at the end of the trial, Brent… We had a meeting the night before the closing argument, and Brent said, “I’m going to ask them for a billion dollars.” And we said, “No, you can’t do it.” He went ahead and did it. They came back with the $2 billion judgment.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:35:08):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:35:10):
And what you were saying about the impact on Bayer. So, when we were picking a jury in the first case, and the Dwayne Johnson case, Monsanto in one of the most brilliant corporate maneuvers in history, sold itself to Bayer for $63 billion. And we were already picking a jury. And-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:35:39):
This wasn’t after the cases were tried, right? Or…
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:35:42):
This was when we were picking a jury on first case. The transaction was completely-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:35:48):
Why would they want to do that? Crazy.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:35:51):
I don’t know. I don’t know what Monsanto told them, but clearly Monsanto must’ve told them that they weren’t going to win the case.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:36:03):
Their stock price went down $34 billion.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:36:06):
After the first case, it dropped to 17%. On the second case, Bayer’s share price dropped 30%, and it dropped ultimately 50% on the third case. It’s hovered between 30 and 50, but a couple of weeks ago I saw that the Wall Street analysts were evaluating their total value as a company at 63 billion, which is the price that they paid for Monsanto [crosstalk 00:36:41]
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:36:41):
It’s crazy. And they just fired the CEO. The board just fired the CEO of Bayer, right?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:36:44):
Yeah, the chair. But, Bayer’s value today is the same price that they paid for Monsanto. So, the entire value of Monsanto has been completely erased.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:37:00):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:37:01):
Which is to me, justice. Because, that company was a bad company[crosstalk 00:37:08]
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:37:07):
They brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs, dioxin and glyphosate.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:37:13):
Yeah. Also, it bought Citral…
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:37:22):
Which is a pharmaceutical company.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:37:24):
But it unleashed sugar substitute.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:37:28):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:37:29):
No, the other one.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:37:30):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:37:30):
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:37:31):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:37:34):
They had a niche, and in…
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:37:37):
Finding all the bad chemicals and selling them really well.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:37:39):
[crosstalk 00:37:39]chemicals that nobody else wanted to touch. And that was Monsanto, and then they had a corporate culture that was like a cowboy in a black [crosstalk 00:37:48].
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:37:48):
Well, their motto is essentially, “we need this type of agriculture to feed the world.” I know people who’ve been in Monsanto, and their mantra is, we need to feed the world. We need GMO seeds. We need these herbicides and chemicals in order to feed the world. And that just, isn’t true. When you look at the data, it’s really clear that you can grow as much food or more food, better food, without all those chemicals, without those seeds. And it’s been demonstrated all over the world. And like in Europe, there’s been incredible studies. They don’t allow GMO foods there. And you can look at the amount of pesticides and herbicides they use is far less, and the yields are no worse. In fact, maybe better.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:38:27):
Because their soil is far better, and they’re absorbing carbon and the soil is the biggest carbon sink. And we’ve destroyed that, using glyphosate and then, you look at the insects, and what’s happened to the insect life, and the amphibians, and everything, and we don’t know which of the pesticides particularly, but clearly glyphosate is eliminating… There’s 13 that we know are being exterminated, extirpated from the planet.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:39:01):
So, Glyphosate also kills the insects?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:39:04):
It either kills them directly, or it interferes with [inaudible 00:39:08] pathway.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:39:10):
What is that?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:39:15):
It’s part of them microbiome. It’s the way that the microbiome essentially communicates with itself. And one of the things that Monsanto said from the beginning is that, it is safe because it doesn’t interfere with any human system or organ. But that was before we understood the importance of the microbiome, which is actually our largest and probably our most important organ. The brain is important, the heart is important, but the microbiome is the largest organ, and without the [inaudible 00:39:51] pathway, it simply doesn’t function.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:39:54):
I don’t think people realize. I mean, yes, they’ve heard of the cancer-glyphosate connection, but people don’t understand that glyphosate is toxic to the microbiome. And small amounts can have a big impact. And just for example, the Impossible burger, which is a GMO soy burger, has 10 times the amount of glyphosate that’s needed to destroy your microbiome in the animal studies. And, we’re seeing, like you said, increases in celiac expression, because 35% of people have the celiac gene, but not everybody gets it. 1% usually get it, but the rate of celiac has gone up 400% in the last 50 years, and the rate of gluten sensitivity has gone dramatically up, and its because in part perhaps because it’s a strain on microbiome, and we get changes in the gut flora, which lead to leaky gut, and then the gluten starts to create problems.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:40:43):
So, how does the glyphosate interact with the soil? Because you just mentioned soil and being a carbon sink, and we’ve talked a lot about this in podcasts, the importance of soil for helping sequester carbon and reverse climate change. How does it affect the soil microbiome?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:41:05):
It destroys the soil biome. And because of that, it makes the soil kind of impervious. The soil is no longer… It cuts off the relationship between the soil and the atmosphere, and it seals the soil off, so it no longer acts as a carbon sink.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:41:19):
Yeah. You’ve got the microbiome in your gut, but you’ve also got the microbiome in the soil. And that is what makes soil work. It’s what allows the plants to extract the nutrients that allows it to hold carbon, that actually sucks the carbon and the water-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:41:34):
Yeah. And glyphosate basically turns soil into dirt. It’s lifeless.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:41:40):
So, what’s next in this whole glyphosate story? Because you’re in the center of it, you’ve tried these cases, there’s more cases coming, recently the EPA announced that glyphosate was safe, which seems preposterous given all this science. What’s going to happen next?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:42:00):
During the trial, we got a hold through the discovery of communications from the White House, that showed that President Trump had sent around the trial message to leadership of Monsanto saying, “We have got your back.” And that basically is the way that EPA has been behaving. But the thing is that EPA, even before Trump was utterly captured, not only grew up the pesticide division, was working hand in hand with Monsanto for many years. There was a guy who ran a-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:42:43):
It was also a revolving door. People-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:42:44):
It was also a revolving door but even more than that, they had a guy in there called Jess Roland, who is running the pesticide division, who was communicating inside information to Monsanto. And in fact, when another federal agency, the Agency for Healthcare Research… Oh, no, it was ATSDR, the Agency for Toxic Substance Review, had decided to do its own test for the national toxicity program. It’s test of the toxicity of glyphosate and Roundup. Roundup’s actually much more toxic than glyphosate because Roundup is the formulated product, which has [inaudible 00:43:36] which amplifies the toxicity life.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:43:42):
And you can buy that for your lawn, right?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:43:43):
Right. You can buy it for your lawn. And they had a guy called [Jesse Ollen 00:43:48] who is the head of the pesticide division, who sent a note to Monsanto saying, “I’m going to kill this study by the ATSDR. I’m going to present them to kill the study, and when I do that, you guys need to give me a medal.” We had that email. And the judge wouldn’t let us show the email to the jury.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:44:10):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:44:12):
The judges are funny. We thought it was relevant, but the judge… It was too prejudicial.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:44:21):
It was. It was incriminating.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:44:23):
They should’ve seen it, but anyway, they still gave us $2 billion because of all the other stuff. [crosstalk 00:44:28]. The reason they gave him $2 billion was because we had reams of that kind of material. These secret communications that show that Monsanto was running EPA. And they were telling EPA, they all knew that that Roundup was causing cancer. And they were working together to hide it from the public. To derail tests, to discredit tests, to take the mice out of tests that are getting kidney tumors, and to do all of these really deceptive falsified science, fraudulent science-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:45:03):
So these big food and agriculture companies, they’re terrified of lawsuits. And because of discovery, where you can get all this information, from emails and communications, and there was a bill introduced into Congress, and we used to call the cheeseburger bill which prohibited lawsuits against food companies for obesity. And it was passed in the Congress, it was defeated in the Senate, but then they found out a way to get it to states all over the country, which prohibits people from suing fast food companies, which they’re terrified of, because of exactly what you’re talking about. And I think it’s such an important thing[crosstalk 00:45:40]
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:45:40):
Yeah, they don’t want to win the lawsuits. They want to make sure you can’t bring the lawsuits.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:45:44):
Exactly. And now you did, and you’re discovering all this dirty laundry, that is the intersection of where Big Ag, and the government have been colluding to suppress information that’s hurting the public. And it’s kind of shocking. Even for me to hear the level of the relationships, the revolving door between Monsanto executives, the EPA, the USDA, the FDA is kind of terrifying. Right?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:46:11):
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:46:11):
And what are the kinds of things that you found in that discovery that were surprising, that illustrate that way in which our governments are co-opted by the big agriculture chemical companies.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:46:20):
It’s just a manipulation of the science. At one point-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:46:24):
So they knew it was cancerous.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:46:26):
Very early on, yes. From the beginning, they knew it was cancerous. And the way that they would let… In fact, EPA originally said, it’s nation licensing for Roundup said it is a carcinogen. And they based that on a mouse study where 70 or 80% of the mice got kidney tumors. You add another, they brought Monsanto, and we got all of these internal arguments from the Monsanto that show they were going to pay the scientist a huge amount of money to come and dispute those findings. And EPA let them reopen the test, and he came in, and claimed that he found tumors in the control groups, but he never showed those tumors to anybody. And Monsanto had to promise to redo the study. And in 40 years they’ve never redone it. The whole thing was based on fraud from the outset. And it was, as you say, it was EPA acting as a sock puppet for the industry that it was supposed to regulate. EPA had completely been co-opted. And for all those years was colluding directly. And it was extraordinary, really the control that Monsanto had over the pesticide division, where they had their own guy running that division for-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:48:03):
Within the government.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:48:04):
Within the government. Running EPA’s pesticide division, and making sure not only that the pesticide division did not regulate Monsanto, but that no other agency in the government was allowed to look at them. He would go out and kill studies by other agencies.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:48:20):
And there were no whistle-blowers in the agency, whether it was Republican or democratic presidents?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:48:26):
Well there are periodically whistle-blowers, but-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:48:30):
Could you think maybe the Clinton administration, Obama administration, might’ve sort of dealt with this. But why wouldn’t they. Are they scared of Monsanto, are they…
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:48:39):
Agency capture is pervasive. And…
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:48:43):
That’s an important sentence. Agency capture is pervasive. And that is exactly true in every aspect of the government, including and especially the food industry.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:48:52):
And it’s not just revolving doors. There are a million different little ways that agency capture occurs. Oftentimes you’ll see high level officials, high level officers from polluting corporations are brought in to run the agency or lobbyists. But even more than that, people who work for those agencies, first of all, the budgets of the agencies are controlled by governmental committees. And the committees, like the pesticide committees and the health committees, the companies, the industry knows that those committees have to be controlled…
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:49:33):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:49:34):
In Congress, because they write the budget for the agency. So, they have tremendous control over what the agency does, and does not do. And so they will work very hard to make sure that they control all the chairmen of those congressional committees who have oversight over the agencies. And then that’s a way to, to engineer agency capture. The other thing is-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:49:57):
Yeah. Almost 100% of the agriculture committees in the house of Senate are highly funded, and the members are highly funded by companies like Monsanto in their campaigns.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:50:06):
Right. And if you look at the agriculture, for example the Agricultural committees, the chair of those committees will always be the biggest receiver of chemical oil and big agriculture. It’s going to be a Cargill, and Smithfield, and Monsanto who’ve given millions and millions of dollars over the career of that politician. And he was bought and sold and owned. He is a sock puppet for those companies. Another instrument of agency capture is that most people, when they work for the government for 20 years, their pension matures. And they’re going to get a 50% pension. Some claim 100% pension for the rest of their lives. So, at that point, they will often leave the agency, and go work for industry, and then they’re kind of collecting two salaries. The industry has an open door for those people, and everybody knows it, and they’re going to pay them huge bonuses. Very, very big.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:51:19):
And so, when those are the people who run the divisions within that regulatory agency… So, that’s the guy, because he knows he’s been there for 20 years. He knows someone in charge of the division him in charge of the division.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:51:35):
He has all the relationships.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:51:37):
Everybody else in the division is working for him. They take his lead because their salaries all depend on him. He knows that he’s preparing the groundwork so that he can have a soft landing at Monsanto or wherever else. He needs to do them a bunch of favors while he’s still in office there. And then on the 20th year, he can go over, and work for the company. But everybody in that agency is being schooled in that. So the whistle-blowers get weeded out, and they get sent to offices in Dubuque where they can’t cause any problems. And it’s people-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:52:12):
What’s an example of why you’ve talked about what is corporate kleptocracy, right? Which is this concept that our government’s been co-opted in ways. It’s scary when you talk about it in general as, “Oh yeah, the government is influenced by corporations.” You could dismiss it. But when you hear the depth of the discovery that you did with the glyphosate case at Monsanto, all of these relationships come out, all these communications come out, and it’s frightening as a citizen to think about who’s running the government.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:52:46):
Right. Yeah. [inaudible 00:52:50] anymore.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:52:51):
No. How do we deal with that? I think the lawsuits, the litigation, is this the thing that we have to be doing more of in the food industry?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:52:59):
That’s a bigger question. It’s about how do you hold the free-fall, the devolution, which has now become a free-fall democracy into corporate kleptocracy, and to ultimately plutocracy. It’s the end game that Eisenhower warned us about on January 17, 1960 because he was leaving office. And said, the biggest threat to America is not a foreign enemy. It’s the military-industrial complex, which will destroy democracy, which will turn America into a national securities aid, and an imperial country abroad, and a national security state at home. And it essentially transformed this model democracy, into a plutocracy. And for 40 years, we’ve seen this systematic attack on the institutions of government regulatory agencies, and the American middle class, the things that has really made America is able democracy. And at this point, the Citizens United case was probably the biggest assault on the integrity of democratic institutions.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:54:18):
Can you tell me about what that is. People may not know what is this. What is Citizens United?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:54:23):
We had a law that was written in 1907 that made it illegal for corporations to give political campaign contributions to federal officials. And there was a period in American history, in the 1880s and 1890s, a period that we know it was the Gilded Age, when we really did lose American democracy. America at the end of the Guilded Age had very little claim to being a democracy anymore. It was being run by large trust, by Standard Oil, by the Oil Trust, the Sugar Trust, [crosstalk 00:54:58]…
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:54:57):
Rockefeller, J.P Morgan, the Mellon family…
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:54:59):
And they all were on interlocking boards on all of these big industries, which were monopoly controlled, and railroads, steel industry, the sugar industry, the-
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:55:12):
[crosstalk 00:55:12] was a trust buster, right?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:55:14):
Well, a whole bunch of things happen once you had a populous movement, which was in the agricultural areas, and you add a progressive movement, which was in the city, and they blended, which were people who were fighting this takeover of our country by large corporations, and then you had muckraking journalists like [Sinclair Lewis 00:55:38], [Idah Terbell 00:55:38].
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:55:38):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:55:41):
Upton Sinclair, and many others who came along and who were directly informing the American public. A corporate takeover. And you had a very charismatic leader, Teddy Roosevelt, who came and who was willing to stand up to them. And in the first 10 years of the 1900s we passed the Sherman Antitrust Act, which allowed us, it was a tool to reduce the power of corporations, so he passed a graduated income tax, and made wealthy people and corporations for the first time pay their share of the cost of our democracy. We had minimum wage laws. For the first time we had child labor laws, we gave women the vote, we abolished the… There wasn’t a direct election of senators. At that point, senators were chosen by the state legislatures who were utterly corrupt. So, he gave the capacity. It was said that in Pennsylvania, none of the members, of the state legislature were for sale, because they were all owned by Standard Oil, and Standard Oil wouldn’t sell any of them. And Standard Oil could choose whoever was Senator of Delaware, was senator of Pennsylvania, et cetera, because they control the legislature, and that was true in virtually all the states.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:57:12):
And then corporations were putting huge amounts of money into the political process. We passed all these laws, but the most important law we passed in terms of reclaiming democracy, was the law that was passed in 1907 that forbade, it prohibited contributions by corporations to federal elected officials. And a hundred years later, in 2008, the Thomas court, the court was once again taken over by corporatives who then threw out that law, and said, “We’re going to…”
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:57:53):
And that was Citizen United.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:57:55):
What they said was that money was speech, and if you had money…
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:58:02):
It was free speech.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:58:04):
The first amendment prohibited anybody from telling you who you could give it to, and who you couldn’t. And so, it basically gave constitutional sanction to legalized bribery. It legalized[crosstalk 00:58:20]
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:58:20):
So, that was the beginning of corruption-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:58:23):
Well, that was the beginning of the end for America.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:58:23):
I remember I’ve heard Senator McCain talking once, and he’s a Republican, he says, until we turn back the tides on Citizens United, we’re not going to have a real democracy anymore. And I remember the other thing you told me once, Bobby, was the other big catastrophe in our democracy was the repeal of the fairness doctrine. And so, tell people what that is, and why it’s such a big deal, that it was repealed.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:58:48):
And let me just say another thing. From the beginning of our national history, you hear people today saying, “The big enemy is a big government.” And that’s true, particularly if government is reading our mail, and our emails, and reading every communication that we have, and torturing people, and doing all the things the American government now does that it didn’t use to do. That’s a scary, and putting 5G everywhere without anybody being able to object about it.
Dr. Mark Hyman (00:59:17):
That’s a new podcast we’ll do on 5G.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (00:59:19):
Right? But from the beginning of our national history, our most visionary political leaders and beloved political leaders who are warning Americans that the biggest threat to democracy, and to human rights, and civil rights, is going to come from corporate power. And that’s why Thomas Jefferson wanted to illegalize corporate charters. Because he said, we can’t create these entities that are immortal. That have no soul. That have no sense of right or wrong, that are going to become predatory on democracy. And then, Andrew Jackson fought against the banks. There was a long history of this. Teddie Roosevelt who is a Republican said that, “America will never be destroyed by a foreign enemy. Our democracy will be subverted by malefactors of great wealth who would erode it from within.” Eisenhower who is a Republican in his greatest speech ever, warned American against the military-industrial complex. Abraham Lincoln, the founder of the Republican party, probably the greatest president in American history said during the height of the civil war in 1863, “I have the South in front of me, and I have the bankers behind me. And for my country, I fear the bankers more.”
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (01:00:41):
And Franklin Roosevelt said during World War II, that the domination of government by corporate power is “the essence of fascism” and Benito Mussolini who had an insider’s view of that process said the same thing. He complained that fascism should not be called fascism. It was corporatism, because it was the merger of state and corporate power. And what we have to understand as Americans is that the domination of business by government is called communism. The domination of government by business is called fascism. And our job is to walk that narrow trail in between, and keep big government at bay with our left hand, big business at bay with our right. And the only way that we can do that, have real representative democracy, functioning democracy is if we have an informed public, that can recognize all the milestones of tyranny, and that we have an informed, independent press, that is speaking truth to power, and we don’t have those things.
Dr. Mark Hyman (01:01:52):
I remember seeing that movie Vice about Dick Cheney, and there was a scene in the movie where Roger Ailes was talking to the vice president of at the time, George H. W Bush, and Bush said to him “We’re talking about the fairness doctrine to get that repealed and fix that.” And that was the birth of Fox News, right?
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (01:02:11):
Dr. Mark Hyman (01:02:12):
And the end of independent fair media, and the end of the Walter Cronkite era where you could actually listen, and it wasn’t just a bunch of nonsense.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (01:02:22):
Now, even the network news, and CNN, and Fox, are all run by corporations.
Dr. Mark Hyman (01:02:33):
It was terrifying-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (01:02:34):
Look at the advertisements for 5G, by the pharmaceutical industry, by the oil industry…
Dr. Mark Hyman (01:02:40):
The food industry… I was absolutely mortified-
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (01:02:42):
And the food industry, and they’re not going to… Anderson Cooper is not going to bite the hand that feeds him.
Dr. Mark Hyman (01:02:48):
I was mortified. I was in the green room, I was about to on TV in Washington yesterday, and I saw Good Morning America. And they were serving Wendy’s breakfast sandwiches to the entire audience, they were munching down on them on television. They had a big ad afterwards for Wendy’s, and I’m like, “This is what our democracy has come to. And our news has come to…” It’s really terrible. Bobby, you are such a wealth of knowledge of history. You’ve really enlightened us about this whole glyphosate story, and how important it is that we actually litigate to actually bring awareness, and to create discovery for these companies, to show what they’re really doing. And I think you’re just a real hero in my mind, Bobby, that you’re telling the truth, speaking true to power, and getting these companies to be accountable for their bad behavior. And we need more people like you out there doing this because I think our democracy is at stake, and I really thank you for all you’re doing Bobby.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (01:03:40):
Thank you for everything you do. You’re my hero.
Dr. Mark Hyman (01:03:43):
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (01:03:44):
Is that a Red Bull that you have in that-
Dr. Mark Hyman (01:03:46):
No, it’s not Red Bull. It’s a tea. So, thank you for listening to Doctor’s Farmacy, I hope you enjoyed this conversation. If you love this podcast, please share with your friends and family, leave a comment we’d love to hear from you, subscribe [inaudible 01:03:59] podcast, and we’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Farmacy.