It brings to the fore the reality that human life is not a pitiless desert of power relationships. While competition for resources is indeed pervasive, so are cooperation and compassion. It is only to the extent that the latter have framed and contained the depredations of power that human civilization has advanced.
- The laboratory creation of the HIV-AIDS virus in the Belgian Congo and its initial “escape” into the African population in the 1950s remains a story shrouded in unanswered questions and outright disinformation. (A 2005 Discovery Channel documentary provided an excellent overview; when last I looked it was available on-line.)
- The smallpox virus, the last remnants of which were supposed to have been eliminated in 1999, lives on in a number of military laboratories, and is the focus of opaque experimentation. Australian scientists have reportedly tried to grow a more aggressively contagious strain.
- Scientists have resurrected from the tissue fragments of long-dead victims, the potent Spanish Flu virus that killed some 25 million people in 1918. Ostensibly to help scientists prepare defences against a natural return of the virus, the genetic blueprint of this deadly pathogen was made available on the World Wide Web.
In 2010, the British medical journal The Lancet carried a supposedly peer reviewed article on an antibiotic-resistant "Superbug" the authors claimed to have found in Delhi.
The day after publication the primary Indian co-author told the Press that The Lancet version was a major distortion of what he had put his name to; he charged that his British counterpart had "edited" the findings without telling anyone. The Lancet then refused to carry a correction because of "lack of space." (A recent vaguely referenced Press report about another study claiming that India suffered a million unregistered unnatural deaths annually left me wondering if that was true or if someone was setting the scene for grim things to come.)