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Experiments on People

January 26, 1994

* "Protecting Human Guinea Pigs" (Jan. 16) clearly demonstrates the need for strong regulation, oversight, and enforcement to prevent scientists from performing medical experiments on human beings without their consent. However, when it comes to immoral and unethical business practices, a separate standard seems to apply.

The Environmental Protection Agency reported a few years ago that in one year alone, 1987, industry was permitted to spew at least 22.5 billion pounds of toxic and cancer-causing chemicals into the nation's air, land and water. Are we not all unwilling guinea pigs to this toxic onslaught? If we hold individuals responsible for their actions how, and why, is industry permitted to get away with committing such abominable acts?



* The article described Turner syndrome individuals as mentally retarded. There is no relationship between Turner syndrome and mental retardation. Because Turner syndrome is a chromosomal abnormality and early studies were conducted with inadequate sampling, inaccurate assumptions have continued to be made by those without experience with Turner syndrome or understanding of the condition.

In fact, the over 2,500 Turner syndrome women in our organization are as bright and competent as any other group of individuals. Many, including myself, are professionally educated and face the same struggles of career and family facing all professionals.

Also, the article's point on the studies of human growth hormone in Turner syndrome does not show any understanding of the complexity of the issues involved. Placebo controls are the cornerstone of medical scientific research. The girls participating in the NIH trials deserve our gratitude and admiration, not pity. They and countless others using growth hormone, in studies or otherwise, have given us much information that shows an increase in growth velocity and indicates strongly an increase in final adult height.

These additional inches do much to improve the ability of Turner syndrome women to contribute to society to their fullest potential and be accepted as the competent, worthwhile beings they are and not the defenseless, defective little girls the article depicts.


Executive Director

Turner Syndrome Society

Wayzata, Minn.

* What is most evident to me in the wake of Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary's recent revelations of unethical nuclear experimentation on humans is that there have always been in our society groups of people who are considered expendable. The expendables include people of color, the mentally and physically infirm, and the poor of all races.

Evidence clearly establishes that not just medical and educational institutions, but criminal justice, military and social service agencies have regarded these groups as less than deserving of their full attention and concern unless they could be used to make the unexpendables' lives more comfortable.

The Tuskegee syphilis experiments showed African Americans the hazards of placing blind trust in government institutions.

It has often been said that evil occurs when good people are silent. Only when white, middle-class, healthy America awakens to and becomes angry at a government which uses up its "expendable" citizenry and repeatedly lies to cover it up will these atrocities stop.



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