Genetically modified food trial dangerously exploits kids as guinea pigs

Golden Goose Egg

It’s an outrage. And it’s infuriating. And they’re using your money to make it happen.

To whet your appetite for a stunning corruption of ethics, I’ll start off with this quote from HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D.: “Whistle-blowers in the GM industry all say the same thing: One genetic modification ALWAYS causes more than just the desired change (and that’s if you only modify one thing!).”

Mess with Mother Nature, and sooner or later she will mess you up. That’s a promise.

Judgment at Nuremberg

To violate the Nuremberg code you’ve got to do something so wrong that even a schoolboy would know it’s wrong.

Speaking of schoolboys…

Could you ever imagine testing a potentially dangerous food on children? But wait. First we’ll give the benefit of the doubt and say, sure, you might consider doing this if the food had been thoroughly tested in animals and was found to be harmless.

But if you skipped the animal testing and went straight to the young human subjects, you would be violating the Nuremberg code. Twice.

A group of more than 20 international scientists recently sent a letter of protest to Tufts University School of Medicine to express their “shock and unequivocal denunciation of the experiments being conducted by your colleagues which involve the feeding of genetically modified golden rice to human subjects (adults and children.)”

According to the scientists, the Tufts experiments violate the Nuremberg code because they involve children as subjects (children can’t legally give their consent), and because exactly zero animal trials have been conducted to establish the safety of golden rice.

And here’s the capper: The experiments were administered and funded by the National Institutes of Health. That’s right: U.S. tax dollars at work, driving down ethical standards for research on children.

If you’d like to read the section of the Nuremberg code that pertains to human experimentation, you can easily find it on the website for the Office of Human Subjects Research. Which happens to be a division of…yep – the National Institutes of Health.

Inadvertent and unpredictable

Golden rice is a good idea on paper. But in the real world, one big “if” still lingers.

In developing countries, thousands of children go blind every year due to a dietary deficiency of vitamin A. Golden rice was genetically engineered to produce a beta carotene-packed staple food in the hopes that impoverished children and adults might have abundant, easy access to vitamin A.

What’s wrong with this picture? I’ll let the scientists who sent the Tufts letter explain: “There is now a large body of evidence that shows that GM crop/food production is highly prone to inadvertent and unpredictable pleiotropic effects, which can result in health damaging effects when GM food products are fed to animals.”

So it’s hard to imagine why the Tufts program simply passed on the animal stage for testing golden rice. Here’s how Dr. Adrian Dubock (Golden Rice Organization project manager) tried to justify the decision in an interview with the Daily Mail: “As humans are the designed beneficiaries of Golden Rice, animal testing could not answer the questions posed.”

I’ve got to think Dr. Dubock is fully aware that his statement is some of the purest, grade A hogwash we’ve ever been offered. In any case, his plan to skip animals and use children is a reckless and dangerous decision and he should be held personally accountable.

“Tufts University Involvement in Golden Rice Feeding Trials” Open Letter from GM Free Cymru, 2/12/09,
“British Scientists Condemn Using Children in GM Food Trials as Unacceptable” Sean Poulter, Daily Mail, 2/17/09,
“What’s the probability your supermarket plums are genetically modified?” The Ideal Bite,