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Food Integrity Campaign Blog

Life After Whistleblowing: Renee Dufault

Food Integrity Campaign | March 9, 2023

FIC Director and former whistleblower client co-author academic article highlighting the role of food toxins in the development of childhood neurodevelopmental disorders.

Media coverage of whistleblowers losing their careers and credibility is not uncommon. But despite the retaliation and backlash, most whistleblowers recover and have an equally or even more impressive “second act” in their professional lives. Renee Dufault is but one example of a whistleblower who has persevered in her truth and advocacy. She is the first FIC whistleblower we are profiling in our blog series “Life After Whistleblowing.”

Renee originally came to FIC with disclosures regarding mercury in High Fructose Corn Syrup. Her research was suppressed by the FDA, but after retiring from the agency, Renee continued her fight to expose the dangers of food toxins. Renee founded the Food Ingredient Health Research Institute over a decade ago and has continued to research, educate, and author books. She even found time to earn her doctorate degree from A.T. Still University. Recently, Dr. Renee Dufault and FIC Director, Amanda Hitt, co-authored an article titled “Higher rates of autism and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder in American children: Are food quality issues impacting epigenetic inheritance?” in the World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics.

Toxins in food are nothing new, but what is surprising is how little is being done to address the problem. In 2021, the United States Congress found heavy metal residues problematic in the American food supply but took no legislative action. Recently, Bloomberg Law shared that they tested 33 baby food products in 2022 from nine companies for the heavy metals of: lead, cadmium and arsenic. All but one of the products were found to contain at least two of those heavy metals. Their reporting demonstrates that there is still a massive problem with these metals in the food supply. And the FDA “has no plans to set enforceable limits for most heavy metals in most baby foods until at least 2024.”

In the article, Dr. Dufault and her co-authors explain how heavy metal residues remain persistent in the American food supply due to food ingredient manufacturing processes. They point to numerous clinical trials indicating that heavy metal exposures and poor diet are the primary epigenetic factors responsible for autism and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder epidemics. Dietary heavy metal exposures, especially inorganic mercury and lead may impact gene behavior across generations thus contributing to the alarming rise of neurodevelopmental disorders in children.

The authors suggest that mandatory health warning labels on select foods may be the only way to reduce dietary heavy metal exposures and improve child learning across generations. Their article discussed the need for reform within the context of the growing utilization of Special Education resources in the United States. Schools offer special education services to children who are diagnosed with learning or neurodevelopmental disorders (such as autism) and have difficulty meeting their learning goals. The authors cite the marked increase in the number of children in the United States receiving special education services as cause for public policy action.

FIC applauds whistleblowers like Dr. Renee Dufault for their brave truth-telling and we relish opportunities to collaborate with them. It is an honor to walk with them on our shared journey toward a just and sustainable food system.

Renee J Dufault, Raquel A Crider, Roseanne Schnoll, Steven G. Gilbert, Amanda L Hitt, Food Ingredient and Health Research Institute, Naalehu, Hawaii, 96772 United States
Renee J Dufault, College of Graduate Health Studies, A.T. Still University, Kirksville, Missouri, 63501 United States
Richard C Deth, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 33314 United States
Roseanne Schnoll, Department of Health and Nutrition Sciences, Brooklyn College of CUNY, Brooklyn, New York, 11210 United States
Steven G Gilbert, Institute of Neurotoxicology and Neurological Disorders, Seattle, Washington, 98105 United States
Walter J Lukiw, LSU Neuroscience Center, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70112 United States
Amanda L Hitt, Food Integrity Campaign, Government Accountability Project, Washington, District of Columbia, 20006 United States


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