Over the centuries, there have been countless treatments, remedies, and recommendations made in the health and scientific arenas that we now know to be outright wrong. Left in the wake of these faux-pas has been massive human suffering and death. Here is but a small chronology:
Bloodletting: For 2,000 years, until the late 19th century, physicians drew blood from patients for all kinds of ailments. It did much more harm than good.
Mercury: Mercury was a cure-all for scabs, cuts, irregularity. It was used for so many ailments. Rub a little bit onto the wound and the most toxic non-radioactive substance known to man was lodged in the patient’s body for the rest of his/her life.
Lobotomies: Patients with neurological conditions ranging from mild depression and anxiety to schizophrenia were treated by scraping away most of the connections in the frontal lobes of the brain. By the way… the originator of the procedure shared in the 1949 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his revolutionary treatment!
Cigarettes: The rage for much of the 20th century, one brand was promoted with “More Doctors Smoke Camel” t-shirts. Physicians hocked cigarettes on TV for years.
Thalidomide: Introduced in the late 50’s as a sleeping pill, it was quickly found to have benefits to pregnant women with morning sickness. Unfortunately it came with a tragic side effect… severe birth defects.
Trans fats: For years, food manufacturers put low cost trans fats into products. They ramped the content even higher during ‘sugar-free’ fads. Now many jurisdictions have legislated bans on trans fats.
BPA: Bisphenol-A is a plastic used for years in many products, bottled water and baby bottles being the highest profile. Canada became the first country to declare it a toxic substance. Many other countries have either followed suit or restricted its use.
All these procedures, treatments, and products thought to be beneficial turned out to be quite the opposite. What can we learn from this as we witness the genetic re-engineering of our food supply? Using history as a guide, I would suggest we will look back on this massive science experiment as a tragic mistake that had dire consequences.