Original Repository: Stanford University Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Paul Berg Papers
Reproduced with permission of Paul Berg.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Recombinant DNA Technologies and Researchers' Responsibilities, 1973-1980
June 27, 1973
I understand the Gordon Conference on Nucleic Acids was a great success and I'm sure your input and direction helped make
it so. John Morrow enjoyed the Conference, learned a great deal and was deeply grateful for the financial assistance that
made his attendance possible.
John told me of the discussion concerning "potential hazards" and I read your remarks to the Conference on that score.
As you must know, I have some interest in the same subject. I read your letter to Phil Handler and have taken the liberty
of sending you some of my comments.
I think a study committee of the type suggested would be worthwhile and could clear the air. The only feature of your letter
to which I take exception is the "feel" being transmitted that this kind of work may very well be hazardous rather
than what I prefer to think is we have no way of knowing whether it is or not. The phrase in the first paragraph, "certain
of these hybrid molecules are potentially hazardous" seems a bit strong although, admittedly, the word potentially is
intended to convey doubt; but the doubt seems borderline. May I offer a substitute for the first two sentences of the second
paragraph for your consideration?
(We are concerned at the possibility that such hybrid molecules could be hazardous to laboratory workers and the public.
Though no indications of such a hazard presently exist, a majority of those attending the Conference voted to communicate
their concern to you and to the President of the National Academy of Medicine (to whom this letter is also being sent).
I hope all is well with you, Dan and the kids. Sometime soon I hope to hear about your year in Israel and your baptism in
the tumor virus field. Whatever happened to that paper you were writing on the defectives? Is there a chance of getting