Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Morally Dubious Experiments

In 2008 the Vatican published a list of new social sins that at the time gave the media something to talk about and a reason to laugh. The sins listed were bio-ethical violations, such as birth control; morally dubious experiments, such as stem cell research; drug abuse; environmental pollution; contributing to widening the divide between rich and poor; excessive wealth; and creating conditions for poverty. The  Kyeongyang magazine has taken a close look at each of these offenses, separately and in detail. This month a professor at the Catholic University of Daegu discusses "morally dubious experiments."

These experiments, he says, are like thorns on a rose bush, a two-edged sword, which under the guise of scientific experiments causes a lot of trouble. The human medical experiments run by Unit 731 of the Japanese army in China on Koreans and the Chinese are well-known. They  injected prisoners of war with anthrax bacteria and small pox germs to follow the progress of the contamination. There were other experiments but far too many to mention and the barbarity of what was done even difficult to speak about.

The professor also mentions the gruesome experiments performed by the Nazis on their Jewish prisoners. Also mentioned were the experiments, in1932, on Southern Blacks, by the U.S. Public Health Service, to determine the progress of syphilis, and even though medicine for the disease was available, it was not given to the patients. A similar experiment by the U. S. was conducted on prisoners and the mentally sick in Guatemala; here they were infected with syphilis to determine how useful penicillin would be in curing the disease. There were also the experiments by the CIA, until 1973, during which the government experimented on how to control behavior by drugs, electric shock, radiation, supersonic waves, and the like.

Denunciation of these immoral human experiments had good results. Those that participated in these experiments during the Second World War were given serious punishment. In 1947 a set of guidelines, called the Nuremberg Principles, was proclaimed by the United Nations, detailing what is permissible in medical experiments. In1964, the Declaration of Helsinki was a means of governing international research, providing guidelines for biomedical research involving human subjects. Korea has also established, he says, what is allowed in clinical trials, as well as setting up other regulations in medical matters.

Even though there are international regulations governing these matters, because of the sovereignty of each nation, unethical experiments are still occurring, such as nuclear testing. From 1945 to 1998, there have been 1,851 nuclear experiments. In 1963, because of the radioactive nuclear fallout, Russia and the U. S. agreed to stop the atmospheric experiments and to limit the experiments to the underground.

The amount of plutonium in our atmosphere because of nuclear testing, the professor surmises, is about 3.5 tons and its lethal effects will take thousands of years to dissipate. Another likely destructive scenario, but potentially more immanently catastrophic for humanity, the professor believes, will be the nuclear fallout from our energy generating nuclear plants, similar to what happened at Fukushima, Japan. The possible destruction of nature and human life are not being considered as we continue to experiment with nuclear energy. The professor would like to see a Maginot Line put in place that would block any more experiments of this type. If we don't heed the calls for stopping these experiments, he's convinced that the future will be a perilous time for both humanity and the planet.  

1 comment:

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