Disclaimer: Crossing the Line? poses questions for readers to consider. Authors are not licensed medical or legal professionals. Consider the issues, and draw your own conclusions.
Would you eat lemon or orange peel every day if it was suggested by a doctor? Would you prefer for research and studies to confirm the benefits? Or would you prefer taking a patented drug with studies backing up its effectiveness and benefits?
There are multiple stories rolling around on the internet regarding studies that “prove” health and anti-cancer benefits to eating lemon/citrus peels. In truth, while basic research studies found potential curative benefits, in-depth human studies have not been conducted on citrus.
Limonoids and polymethoxyflavones from citrus or citrus peel are two of many natural plant chemicals — Phytochemicals — touted for their positive health effects and potential use a medicine. However, rather than studying the natural chemicals, they were synthesized, then studied, and patented for medical use. So the synthetic medicines — property of those who created them — are the focus of studies since they may be more likely to produce a profit.
Note: A second example of a phytochemical for reference is Salicin, an extract of the willow tree, from which bark and leaves have been used for centuries as a form of natural medicine. You might recognize Salicin’s synthesized form: Aspirin.
Instead of releasing information on how humans might eat citrus peel for health, pharmaceutical companies make synthesized versions of the peel’s chemical compounds, which — due to the private production — may cost thousands of dollars as a medical treatment. The philosophy seems to be: when life gives you lemons, make a lemon substitute and sell it for more than you could get for cheap lemonade.
The way of the free enterprise system allows people or businesses to profit from their creations. When, though, does it cross the line where information could benefit all of humanity? The short answer is, there is no line and anything may be withheld in the name of profit.
Marketing is allowed. Claims cannot technically be false, but that doesn’t mean claims have to be complete or straight-forward… Rhetoric is allowed.
Is it crossing the line to not publicize discoveries? Or, to mask something beneficial under the patent and trademark laws? Do private discoveries always belong to the discoverer, with no moral or social obligation to share breakthroughs? Or is there a point where a line is crossed? What about the common good?
For example, in some areas, utility companies are not allowed to be profitable since a utility is a required part of modern living. Well, what about health care and medicines?
Where do they cross the line? In a free society, is everything fair game to be coveted for profit? Where do you draw the line for your family?