MIT Tricked Children Into Eating Radioactive Cereal
In the 1940s, Quaker Oats issued a research grant to MIT. Their competitor, Cream of Wheat, was flooding the media with ads claiming that the nutrients in their product traveled through the whole body. Quaker wanted to be able to say the same, but they refused to claim anything in an ad without proving it first—because Quaker wasn’t about to do anything unethical.
Instead, they rounded up 100 orphans, most of whom were mentally disabled, and fed them oatmeal laced with calcium tracers and radioactive iron. When the radiation flowed through the kids’ bodies, Quaker could see how iron traveled inside a duped, mentally challenged orphan.
The experiment jeopardized lives and cost MIT $1.85 million in fees from lawsuits.
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