General Electric Medical Systems
General Electric Medical Systems is a subsidiary of General Electric (GE).
- recently signed an exclusive technology transfer agreement with NY-Presbyterian Hospital, one of the largest academic health-care institutions in the U.S. GE's activities include production of plastics (including toxic bisphenol A), military hardware, and nuclear power plants. GE has investments in for-profit prison enterprises, operates coal-burning power plants, and runs the Patient Channel, an advertising vehicle for drug companies (shown in hospital rooms throughout the country) which has been criticized for manipulative marketing practices.
- GE has conducted unethical human subject experiments, involving testicular irradiation of prisoners, from the 1940s to 1960s; intentionally-released excessive radiation from its Hanford, Washington nuclear reactor in the 1980s, which may have contributed to increased thyroid cancer risk in "downwinders"; and is currently America's largest corporate polluter, responsible for 75 Superfund sites nationwide. Between 1947 and 1977, two of GE's capacitor manufacturing plants dumped 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River, turning 200 miles of the river into a Superfund site. PCBs are probable human carcinogens with adverse effects on the liver, kidney, nervous system, and reproductive organs.
- GE has tremendous influence on U.S. environmental, energy, and health policy. GE spent millions to avoid cleaning up the Hudson River and to weaken or eliminate the Superfund Law. In 2008, it spent over $19 million on lobbying. Many members of its board of directors have government ties.
- GE eliminated 150,000 jobs over the last 15 years, while receiving billions in federal contracts and millions in state and local subsidies. It is one of the nation's top outsourcers of jobs. GE continues to under-fund its employee pension plan, despite very generous compensation packages for its executives, and continues to shift health care costs onto workers, despite growing profits. GE has been cited by Human Rights Watch for "systematic workers' rights violations" in the U.S. and abroad, by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for numerous workplace violations, and repeatedly by the Project on Government Oversight for defrauding U.S. taxpayers.
- The agreement with NY Presbyterian Hospital provides GE with financial incentives to promote high technology purchases; prohibits the hospital from purchasing more effective equipment from other companies; and augments the trend in academic medical centers toward the promotion and use of pricey, high technology care at the expense of preventive care and public health measures. The greatest irony about the agreement, however, is that patients with developmental anomalies and cancers caused by GE's pollution will be diagnosed with GE scanners and treated with GE-manufactured therapeutic devices, increasing GE's bottom line.
- Martin Donohoe 'Combating Corporate Control: Protecting education, media, legislation, and health care' Z Magazine, 20 August 2009, accessed 6 September 2009