Feeding Children Radiation!

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It is well accepted that consent is always necessary in order to carry out research ethically. This story covers advertising research that was carried out by Quaker Oats in the 1950s. The company wanted to figure out how minerals were metabolized in the bodies of children so that they could use that information in an advertisement campaign. Consequently, they fed 54 children their cereal in a study. The company asked for permission from the parents before they did the study. There was a problem though. They told the parents that the children would be fed nutritious food. They did not tell the parents, however, that radioactive calcium and iron were a part of that diet! This is a clear breach in ethics. Although the company gained consent, it was under pretenses that did not divulge all of the relevant information. So, this is not really gaining consent. During the class we talked about many different aspects of ethics codes. Though all of them are important, ultimately, informed consent is the most important.
The refusal to inform the parents cost Quaker Oats when they lost a lawsuit in 1997. My personal take is that there was some definite justice served when the company lost this lawsuit. Any strategic communication group that wants to perform studies in order to craft a message should have strict and harsh penalties imposed on them to set an example. Ethics need to be a top priority for groups and if a lack of ethics goes unpunished then there is no reason why the problem won't get worst. Frankly though, this story happened in the 1950s. I partially chose it to show how much better ethics have become since then. Now, there are several different codes in place (The Nuremberg Code, Declaration of Helsinki, etc.) to guide ethics of organizations. Organizations hold each other accountable for their actions and they strive to have the most ethical research possible.

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This page contains a single entry by pears782 published on December 4, 2012 8:12 PM.

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