THAT engaging little animal, the guinea pig, which lends itself with such docility to experiments in biological laboratories, has suddenly become, in the estimation of the authors, the totem of the great American public. We are all guinea pigs, with the docility characteristic of our kind, and upon us the vendors of foods, drinks, drugs, antiseptics, and cosmetics are conducting their experiments in toxicology. The range and number of these experiments are set out with such terrifying particularity that the more timid souls among us, if guinea pigs have souls, will wish they were living in the less perilous days of Lucrezia Borgia when poisoning was restricted to a few invited guests.
One could ask that the authors’ presentation of what is unquestionably a serious situation had been less sensational in tone, for, in spite of all the dire facts they marshal, many of us manage to live to a reasonable age without recourse to antidotes. It will, nevertheless, profit all of us to read the book if only to build up a protective resistance to the specious claims of advertisers of patent medicines, halitosis cures, hair dyes, face bleaches, hair removers, and other proprietary products, many of which are shown to be of highly dangerous character. The authors bring an especially severe indictment against the Food and Drug Administration for lax and inefficient performance of its duty to protect the public. It will shock the reader to learn how slight is the measure of defense afforded the consumer under the law as now administered. The disclosures by the authors should greatly aid in arousing the public to demand such revision and extension of the food and drug laws and such competent administration of them as shall adequately protect the community.
The public is in much need of education of the specific type furnished by 100,000,000 Guinea Pigs, and there is equal need that advertising agents who prepare and publishers who print deceptive advertisements should develop a conscience awakened to their responsibilities.
ARTHUR D. LITTLE