University of Leicester. Department of Biochemistry
Original Repository: Stanford University Libraries. Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Paul Berg Papers
Reproduced with permission of Hans L. Kornberg.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Recombinant DNA Technologies and Researchers' Responsibilities, 1973-1980
Letter from Paul Berg to Hans L. Kornberg (June 18, 1974)
11th June, 1974
My dear Paul,
I would be most grateful to have your help (rather urgently) in a matter in which, I believe, you are now taking a leading
part. Some months ago I read the letter from Maxine Singer and Dieter Soll, which was published in Science of 21st September,
1973 and which drew the attention of the readers to the possible dangers inherent in the construction of hybrid molecules.
Indeed, I was so impressed that I brought this letter to the attention of a couple of Committees that are supposed to keep
an eye on potential health hazards; unfortunately, my warnings have been regarded as scare mongering (at worst) or tending
to inhibit research (at best). However, rather grudgingly, I have been invited to address a Government Committee (on Laboratory
Use of Dangerous Pathogens) and hope that I may be successful in at least getting them not to dismiss the whole problem out
I understand from Maxine that the National Academy has set up a Study Committee on this subject and that you are its Chairman.
Since my Committee here meets at the end of this month, and (as you will hardly need me to point out) I am by no means expert
in this area, I would be much obliged if you could tell me something of your Group's thinking, and particularly give me
any material which is relevant to the consideration of possible health hazards. Is any action envisaged?
Any information that you could let me have would be much appreciated.