A group of researchers is calling for the retraction of more than 400 scientific papers after a first-of-its-kind study that claims countless human organs were unethically harvested from prisoners in China.
The study, which was published in the journal BMJ Open and led by Australian researchers, highlights a facet of scientific ethics that does not receive a lot of attention. Namely, that many English-language academic journals do not follow international ethics rules over donor consent for organ transplants.
“There’s no real pressure from research leaders on China to be more transparent,” Wendy Rogers, a professor of clinical ethics at Macquarie University and the study’s author, told the Guardian. “Everyone seems to say, ‘It’s not our job.’ The world’s silence on this barbaric issue must stop.”
According to the British publication, this is the first time that any study has examined the progress of the transplant community in preventing unethical research.
The study looked at research papers published from January 2000 until April 2017. Researchers identified 445 studies involving 85,477 transplants. A staggering 92.5 percent failed to report whether or not organs were sourced from executed prisoners, while 99 percent failed to report that organ sources gave consent for transplantation.
The Australian researchers also found that two organizations that have barred research involving executed prisoners, the Journal of American Transplantation and The Transplantation Society, have also made questionable decisions about publishing papers.
“A large body of unethical research now exists, raising issues of complicity and moral hazard to the extent that the transplant community uses and benefits from the results of this research," the researchers write in the study's conclusion. "We call for a retraction of this literature pending investigation of the individual papers.”
Fox News reached out to the Journal of American Transplantation and The Transplantation Society for comment.