Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

Experimenting with Children

In February, 21 scientists and advocates from around the globe accused researchers at Tufts University of violating the Nuremberg Code — a set of ethical research principles drafted after World War II — by conducting risky experiments on humans. The trials in question studied whether golden rice — a genetically modified form of the grain fortified with beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A — can ameliorate vitamin A deficiency, which causes up to half a million cases of blindness a year. The signatories' complaint: Golden rice had not been approved for human consumption. For that reason, they said, feeding it to human subjects in China — including children as young as 6 — was "unethical and potentially dangerous." Tufts issued a statement saying it "fully supports its researchers and their work with" golden rice, adding that the necessary review boards had approved the study.