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Ticking Timebombs

Guinea pigs of the world unite!

By Jim Hightower

As Native-American activist Vine Deloria said: "Sure you can trust the government. Ask an Indian." From Agent Orange to Gulf War syndrome, from DDT to Mad Cow disease, we've learned the hard way that our watchdog agencies often turn out to be lapdogs, protecting higher-ups or the industries they supposedly are overseeing.

For example, medical experimentation on humans. That's highly-regulated, right? After all that publicity about the dastardly "Tuskegee Study" on African-American men, the exposure of soldiers and civilians to Atomic blasts, those radiation experiments on indigent hospital patients--didn't congress put a halt to treating us humans like lab rats?

Sorry, Little Nellie Sunshine, they did not. Our lawmakers did pass a law in 1974, but they left loopholes big enough for Dr. Frankenstein to drive through. For example, they exempted most of the human studies financed by private companies. So, American men, women and children today are being subjected to medical experiments that are totally unregulated.

The regulatory authorities do not know how many of these experiments are underway, what is being done to the unsuspecting patients or what happens to them. When there is a complaint, the government has no authority to investigate, much less to punish.

Instead of having to get a government OK to conduct, say, a test of a new drug on a group of children, the drug company researcher can set-up its own ethical review board to approve the ethics of its own experiments.

Guinea Pigs of the World, unite! Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut is considering legislation to close these loopholes on human experimentation. To support the effort, call his office on 202-225-5541.

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