Fatal genetic research on humans

A respected American human geneticist is alleged to have caused the deaths of many Yanomami Indians in the 1960s as part of an experiment for the Atomic Energy Commission

What Patrick Tierney reports in his book "Darkness in El Dorado. How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon" which was published on 1. The book, which will be published in October, has not only caused excitement among anthropologists and ethnologists, but has also revived criticism of genetic research. Human geneticist James Neel, who died in February, was, in the words of Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, the "Father of the human genetics research field", but he also seems to have been someone who killed hundreds of people for research purposes or at least let them die.

James Neel was a professor at the Medical School of the University of Michigan and established the first Institute of Human Genetics at an American university in 1956. The board of directors of the Medical School, Allen S. Lichter, recognized Neel as "one of the most outstanding collaborators", that the university’s medical department has had in its 150-year history.

To his credit, he was one of the first scientists to discover the genetic basis of sickle cell anemia. He also studied the effects of radiation on survivors and their children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were bombed with atomic bombs by the Americans at the end of World War II. As a theorist, he hypothesized that genes associated with common modern diseases such as diabetes and hypertension were once important because they were vital for people to survive in food-scarce times. His research also focused on the genetic effects of marriages of close relatives, the determination of the time from which the Americas were settled, or the genetic characteristics of isolated Indian tribes in the Amazon basin.

What sounds so harmless, however, also seems to lead to human experiments with fatal ends or to a biological war in the service of the "Science" to have led. In the mid-1960s, Neel had been working in the Yanomami Indian habitat in Brazil and Venezuela. In the process, he is said to have infected many of the Indians with measles, causing the death of several hundreds, perhaps thousands of people. He is said to have ordered his staff not to help the sick and dying Indians because they were only here to observe what was happening. The human experiment was part of a research contract with the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, which was interested in learning more about groups facing mass mortality caused by nuclear war. Neel, according to Tierney, wanted to see how natural selection affects primitive societies by infecting the Indians.

Apparently this "Mengele project" One of the secret experiments conducted on human subjects by the Atomic Energy Commission, which was dissolved in 1974. Neel’s group also conducted experiments for the commission in the U.S., injecting subjects with radioactive plutonium without their knowledge or consent.

Terrence Turner, a professor of anthropology at Cornell University who had the opportunity to read the book and verify its claims prior to publication, has already joined Leslie Sponsel of the University of Hawaii in writing a letter to the American Anthropological Association, as reported by the Guardian, stating that this incident is "was unique in the history of anthropology in its scope, its intricacies, and its sheer criminality and depravity" be. According to Turner, there is evidence that the vaccine used was Edmonson B, which causes symptoms similar to those of measles and which either triggered or at least intensified the epidemic.

The association then published a statement saying that the project "He was extremely disturbed by the accusations" be. Since other anthropologists, scientists and journalists are also accused in the book, they should be given the opportunity to reflect on the accusations before the incidents described in the book are assessed and discussed. The accused have been invited to the next meeting of the association in November to comment. The association announced that it would set up an open forum on this ie and stressed that the establishment and observance of ethical guidelines has been a major concern of anthropologists since the 1960s. This includes that the researchers should do everything in their power to ensure that their work does not violate people’s safety, dignity and privacy.

"When medical experts are informed about it", according to Turner, "that Neel and his group had used the vaccine in question, they do not believe that at first, they say it is unbelievable that they could have done so and cannot explain in any way why they had used such an inappropriate and dangerous vaccine. There is no record to show that Neel had sought medical advice before using the vaccine. He also did not inform the Venezuelan authorities that his group was planning to conduct a vaccination series, which he was legally obligated to do."

According to Turner, Neel believed that early human communities were small, genetically isolated groups in which the dominant genes for certain traits, like a "innate con" to lead a group by selection, because the male carriers of this gene had access to more women and could reproduce their genes more often than other men. This enabled continuous improvement of the genome. Neel believed, Turner said, that in modern societies, the genes responsible for higher levels of leadership are, "From the genetic mediocrity of the masses" are flooded: "The political implication of this fascist eugenics is clearly that society should be reorganized into small isolated breeding groups in which genetically superior males rise to power, eliminate or subordinate the male losers in the competition for power and women, and amass harems of breeding females."

Turner reportedly regrets, according to Guardian, that his letter to the American Anthropological Association has been made public. Nonetheless, he said he was pleased with the association’s quick response. Finally, he thinks that with the publication of this incident, anthropology and, of course, genetic research could be pilloried in public.

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