Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Morons of Fernald

In 1953, the directors of the Walter E. Fernald State School in Waltham, Massachusetts sent this letter to the parents of children residing at the school:

"In previous years we have done some examinations in connection with the nutritional department of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the purposes of helping to improve the nutrition of our children and to help them in general more efficiently than before.

For the checking up of the children, we occasionally need to take some blood samples, which are then analyzed. The blood samples are taken after one test meal which consists of a special breakfast meal containing a certain amount of calcium. We have asked for volunteers to give a sample of blood once a month for three months, and your son has agreed to volunteer because the boys who belong to the Science Club have many additional privileges. They get a quart of milk daily during that time, and are taken to a baseball game, to the beach and to some outside dinners and they enjoy it greatly.

I hope that you have no objection that your son is voluntarily participating in this study. The first study will start on Monday, June 8th, and if you have not expressed any objections we will assume that your son may participate."

Unbeknowest to the parents a partnership between the school, MIT, and the Quaker Oats Company was being launched for three reasons:
  • The school was getting paid for supplying the kids. 

  • Quaker Oats got an opportunity to prove that indeed nutrition from Quaker Oats was absorbed quicker than from their rival Cream of Wheat.

    • MIT was conducting experiments pertaining to the absorption of radiation. 
    Yep, all three of these entities cooperated in lacing oatmeal with radioactive material.

    Seeking Freedom From Label At Last

    C-Span, Lectures in History: U.S. Cold War Human Radiation Experiments

    History of the Walter E. Fernald Development Center

    Task Force Reports on Fernald Studies
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