Korea cracking down on Chinese "human flesh pills" made from ... dead babies

As horrendous as this is, I’m wondering if it could be even worse than advertised. China being China, who knows how many of the fetuses involved were voluntarily aborted. That’s what the whole Chen Guangcheng flap is about, remember: He’s a crusader against compulsory abortions and sterilization. Given the market for these capsules and the power of the Chinese state, it’s easy to imagine graft in which local officials force women who might otherwise carry to term to have the pregnancy terminated so that it can be, shall we say, harvested for raw materials.

You know what? After reading several stories about this, I’m not sure we’re talking exclusively about fetuses here.

South Korea has seized thousands of smuggled drug capsules filled with powdered flesh from dead babies, which some people believe can cure disease, officials said Monday.

The capsules were made in northeastern China from babies whose bodies were chopped into small pieces and dried on stoves before being turned into powder, the Korea Customs Service said.

Customs officials refused to say where the dead babies came from or who made the capsules, citing possible diplomatic friction with Beijing. Chinese officials ordered an investigation into the production of drugs made from dead fetuses or newborns last year.

The Daily Mail has gruesome details. Reminds me of the “resurrectionist” trade, except that that involved studying corpses for medical research purposes and this involves … eating them:

The grim trade is being run from China where corrupt medical staff are said to be tipping off medical companies when babies are aborted or delivered still-born.

The tiny corpses are then bought, stored in household refrigerators in homes of those involved in the trade before they are removed and taken to clinics where they are placed in medical drying microwaves.

Once the skin is tinder dry, it is pummelled into powder and then processed into capsules along with herbs to disguise the true ingredients from health investigators and customs officers…

There have been disturbing reports that some babies were those who had perished in China’s notorious ‘dying rooms’ where youngsters are deliberately left to die because they were born into families that already had the limit of one child in country areas.

South Korean cops have confiscated nearly 18,000 capsules since last August. According to a documentary made last year, DNA tests confirm that the capsules include human flesh. In case that sounds tempting, fair warning: They’re not so good for you.

“This is gross, as well as creepy,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chairman of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who consults regularly with the Centers for Disease Control.

“We have no idea how this material is processed and under what circumstances,” he said. “If it’s not done in a hygienic fashion to make assurances infections are excluded, it could contain viruses as well as bacteria.”…

Schaffner said the pills could transmit the drug-resistant bacteria MRSA that could be on the skin of a fetus. “If these fetuses went through the birth canal, they can quickly pick up bacteria,” he said.

Because the birth canal is in close proximity to the rectum, other bacteria like e coli, salmonella and shigella could be present.

There are roughly 35,000 abortions in China each day, more than 13 million per year. Next week’s Tom Friedman column should be amazing.

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