Biomedical research

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, Jan/Feb 1994:

Despite a warning from senior radi-
ation biologist Dr. Joseph Hamilton that the
experiments had “a little of the Buchenwald
touch, the Atomic Energy Commission con-
ducted extensive radiation research on unwitting
human subjects from the mid-1940s into the
early 1970s, according to newly declassified
documents released in December by Energy
Secretary Hazel O’Leary, who battled her own
bureaucracy for nearly a year to obtain them. In
one experiment, 19 mentally retarded teenaged
boys at a state school in Fernald, Mass-
achusetts, were given radioactive milk with
their breakfast cereal from 1946 until 1956. In
another, 18 indigent hospital patients in
Rochester, New York, were injected with plu-
tonium. Some suffered prolonged disabilities as
a result. Seven newborn boys, six of them
Afro-American, were injected with radioactive
iron in Memphis, Tennessee, during 1953-
1954. That was a small experiment compared
to one involving 253 newborns in Arkansas,
Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, and Tennessee,
who were injected with weakly radioactive
iodine 131. In Oregon and Washington,
researchers heavily irradiated the testicles of
100 healthy prison inmates as recently as 20
years ago. There were more than 800 such
experiments in all. To expedite the declassifica-
tion process, O’Leary has doubled the staff
assigned to the work. People who believe they
may have been part of the experiments may call
a special hotline: 800-493-2998.
The Department of Justice notified
U.S. Dictrict Judge Claude Richey on
November 22 that on behalf of the USDA and
other federal agencies it intends to appeal
Richey’s ruling of February 25, 1993 that the
current USDA regulations on dog and primate
care in research facilities are so lenient as to
violate the intentions of Congress when it
passed the Improved Standards for Laboratory
Animals Act of 1985. The appeal will mean a
delay of at least another year before the regula-
tions can be brought up to standard.
The University of Pennsylvania
Medical School has created a chair for the
study of bioethics, under Arthur Caplan, who
previously directed the Center for Biomedical
Ethics at the University of Minnesota, and
reputedly takes little interest in animal issues.
About half of the 120 U.S. medical schools now
have bioethics curriculums.
The Institute of Laboratory Animal
Resources, a branch of the National Research
Council, will be holding hearings February 2 in
San Francisco and February 4 in St. Louis on
proposed revisions to the federal Guide for the
Care and Use of Laboratory Animals. Get
details from Thomas Wolfle, DVM, c/o NRC,
telephone 202-334-2590 or fax 202-334-1687.
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