Dispatches from the gilded cage of the cutting edge

(Wherein our intrepid hero tweets merrily at the coal-miners)

Some time ago I read an article on the recent trend of pharmaceutical companies out-sourcing their drug testing to India. You may, if you wish, read it here. However, any opinion you form will either be in accordance with mine, in which case it is superfluous, or in contradiction, in which case it is wrong. Consequently, you are better off simply reading the following, and then smiling and nodding as if you were even capable of keeping up with my extraordinary intellect.

You might feel inclined, you see, to feel sympathy for these third-world guinea pigs. You might feel that we in the developed world are somehow “exploiting” them. This is, of course, utter nonsense.

Imagine, for instance, that you were dying of cancer. You would, naturally, be willing to try anything and do anything to enhance your chances of survival. How would you feel, then, to discover that you were not able to receive some revolutionary new drug that may well save your life, whilst meanwhile, some third-world slacker is getting the drug for free – perhaps even being paid to take it, just because it hasn’t been “proven safe” yet. What an entirely typical absurdity of modern life!

Now, some might say that they are assuming the risk of some short-term side-effects that may turn up in testing, that you won’t have to suffer them, but when the short-term side-effect you’re suffering is death? Not only are these third-world guinea pigs selfishly hoarding the drugs for themselves – they’re actually killing members of our society! Furthermore, the simple fact is that whilst we may be testing for short-term side-effects on the peoples of the third world, they are enjoying the benefits of seeing the long-term effects that we in the developed world suffer all the time.

For instance, by the time citizens of the third-world can afford auto-mobiles, they will benefit from crumple-zones, roll-bars, air bags, &c., &c., &c., courtesy of the thousands of first-world denizens that so valiantly wrap themselves around telegraph poles all in the furtherance of science. They never had to suffer asbestosis because we were considerate enough to ensure all the testing of asbestos was done on us. By the time they can afford mobile phones, they’ll know whether they cause brain tumours. By the time they can afford iPods they’ll know all about the risks to their hearing. By the time they get wi-fi Internet access, they’ll know whether it causes autism. By the time they get computers, they’ll know about the risks to their eyesight and have wrist-rests to prevent RSI. By the time they get electricity, they’ll know all about the dangers of electrocution and the risk of living under high-voltage power lines. And by the time they can afford food, they’ll know all about regulating fast-food advertising, increased risks of diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease, low GI, regulating to prevent obesity epidemics, &c., &c., &c…. and all because of the suffering we in the developed world are experiencing right now.

The fact of the matter is, they are actually exploiting us. They are simply standing idly by, watching our suffering, and doing nothing for their own selfish benefit. What’s worse, they don’t even bother half the time to learn from our hard-learnt lessons! After all, haven’t we spent centuries practising genocide and ethnic cleansing, holy wars and totalitarian governance, haven’t we lived centuries in societies without social security, public health-care, education, legitimate justice systems and equal rights? What an extraordinary insult it is to the suffering of our forefathers that they ignore all that we did that they might know better, just so they can go and “do their own thing”. A petty man might take umbrage at that, might get angry, even wrathful. Not I, however. No, I will continue to risk my life on a daily basis with the latest cell-phones, the most leather-upholstered air-conditioned cars, the newest cuisines and most intriguing philosophical ideas, the largest televisions and fastest computers, the sweetest cakes and the smallest mp3 players, the finest beers and softest mattresses, and countless other burdens of modern society, all in the interests of scientific inquiry, to safeguard their and their children’s lives. Because I, you see, am the better man. I only wish, one day, that they might learn to be as noble, unselfish and caring as we.

Published in: on January 26, 2008 at 11:21 am  Leave a Comment  

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