FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May, 19, 2003
Frist AIDS Bill Suggests Medicine Could Be Denied to African Nations If They Refuse Genetically Engineered Food Aid
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Greenpeace filed a complaint today with the State of Tennessee calling for an ethics investigation of Senator Bill Frist’s AIDS bill. The bill suggests withholding AIDS medications from African nations if they refuse to accept genetically engineered (GE) food aid. The Greenpeace complaint calls for the state to investigate and take disciplinary action, including calling for a formal public hearing, sanctioning Frist (a medical doctor), and revoking his license to practice medicine.
“While we strongly support this essential spending assistance for AIDS sufferers, Dr. Frist’s attempt to use African AIDS patients for unrelated political goals is reprehensible,” said Charles Margulis from Greenpeace. In threatening to withhold AIDS medication because certain African governments refuse to accept untested gene-altered foods, Senator Frist is practicing medical blackmail.
The Greenpeace complaint cites the codes of medical ethics of several U.S. medical societies, including those of the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians. Referring to these codes, the Greenpeace complaint cites three areas of ethical violations: Violations of Physician Responsibilities to Patients and Society; Violations of Physician’s Responsibility Regarding Informed Consent and Avoiding Coercion; and Violations of Physician’s Responsibility Regarding Conflicts of Interest.
In the complaint, Greenpeace explains Dr. Frist is attempting to coerce African nations into accepting food by suggesting that it could be tied to receipt of AIDS prevention funding. Such action flies in the face of the physician’s duty to protect and foster free, uncoerced choices&Dr. Frist’s attempt to blackmail AIDS patients is despicable and should be strongly censured.
The text of the Frist bill reads: “Although the United States is willing to provide food assistance to these countries in need, a few of the countries object to part or all of the assistance because of fears of benign genetic modifications to the foods. It is therefore the sense of Congress that United States food assistance should be accepted by countries with large populations of individuals infected or living with HIV/AIDS, particularly African countries, in order to help feed such individuals.”
Listed as witnesses in support of the Greenpeace complaint are the Global Aids Alliance, the Society of Women Against AIDS in Africa, and the Center for Environmental Health.
CONTACT: Charles Margulis, Greenpeace (202) 413-8512 (cell); Alisa Arnett, Greenpeace Media, 415-255-9221 x330.