In the class of last week, we have learned some unethic cases in the real world. The most impressive one to me is the experiment of feeding genetically modified rice to children in China.
According to the lead author of this study (Tang Guangwen,Tufts University), this experiment was designed to detect whether the “golden rice”, which is one of the genetically modified rice, could be a effective rescource of providing vitamin A to humman. As known, genetically modified plant is still a new scitific product and each of them need researches for generations to prove its safty. What’s more, the certain “outstanding” properties presented by genetically modified plant was resulted from its unnatural gene consequences, which might be changed one’s normal structure in molecular level and lead to unknown harm. It was learned that there was no animal or human safty test of this kind of rice. Instead, they do their study directly on human body, which even 6-8 years old young children whose brain and body was still developing. It is really terrible to hear that scientists sacrifice the health and future of the young children only for the development of their own research. It hard to believe they do not think about the children and their parents when they made such decision.
However, the scientists are not the only one who should be blamed for unethics. Dave R. Schubert, professor of Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, said ” the test was done among Chinese children most likely because they could not pass the review process required for doing this type of clinical trial in the US”. So it is reasonble to question that, how this experiment on Chinese children could be passed? How can an unsafty experiment on human could be published on a scitific journal? Isn’t it a mislead to other scientists and fundings which support such kind of research?
What’s more, the related Chinese organization should also responsible for this unethic research. The information from Hunan province, where the experiment had done, clared that such experiment was agreed by both students and their parents and they signed the agreement to the school. The Chinese media was doubt that whether the school had clarified every potential dangers to parents. Part of co-authors of this paper were from Hunan province and they attend this experment. I can not believe they do not know the danger of this experment. The only answer for them to do so might be the desiration of their own benefits, such as have more publications or obtain finacial support.
Thus, if when scientists, acdemic journals, universities and related govenment officers all failed to take the ethic responsibility of our society, who could stand out to protect the order and the original inspiration of science? It is true that the peers of scientists could oversee each other, like Schuber, one of 22 scientists who wrote an open letter to warn this experiment in this case. Also the public could reflect their opinions on scientific research. However, the scientists should still build their own professional ethic as soon as possible, and think through every step of their research based on this criterion.
In addition, scientists should try to find out other possible ways when the present one obey the ethic standard. As I am a student of food science, I know the rice is defenitely not the only way to provide vitamin A. There are numerous fruits and vegetables cotain vitamin A and we acturally do not need a genetically product. Although genetically product may be more economic ones, it is not a practical method to solve the shortage of plant in the long run.