Scientists confronted with local controversy over recombinant DNA research often turned to Singer for advice and information
on how to counter the arguments of opponents and defend the safety of this research. In this letter, Singer warned of the
complications and multiple regulations that would arise if local jurisdictions rather than federal institutions were allowed
to oversee recombinant DNA technology. She also urged that the NIH Guidelines for Recombinant DNA research be applied to
all such research no matter how it was funded, including research conducted by private industry.
Number of Image Pages:
1 (86,725 Bytes)
1977-03-22 (March 22, 1977)
Gordon, Milton P.
University of Washington
Original Repository: Library of Congress. Maxine Singer Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Library of Congress.
Medical Subject Headings (MeSH):
Risk, Regulation, and Scientific Citizenship: The Controversy over Recombinant DNA Research
Letter from Milton P. Gordon to Maxine Singer (March 10, 1977)
It was really a pleasure to have some interesting science to look at. Most of the letters I get regarding recombinant DNA
are rehashes of old arguments with no new information.
It seems to me that your findings have two points of relevance to the recombinant DNA debate. First, as you pointed out, your
data indicate that the eukaryote/prokaryote barrier is not absolute, as Bob Sinsheimer has argued. You probably are also aware
of the isolation, from urines of terminal colon cancer patients, of gram negative bacteria, identified as E.coli, that appear
to synthesize human-choriogonadotrophin. Second, your observations suggest that in at least this one situation, the eukaryote/prokaryote
exchange is related to a eukaryote disease. The scenario is more or less what has been imagined as leading to potential hazards
from recombinant experiments. You probably know that the NIH Guidelines refer specifically to problems arising, from experiments
My own experience with radio and television has not been especially happy. You would be best off in a live interview, rather
than a taping which will then be edited at someone else's pleasure. I have found that listeners appreciate a simple, straightforward
description of the science.
Stan Cohen's article more or less reflects my own views on recombinant DNA. I believe that it is especially important,
to stress the very stringent requirements in the NIH Guidelines, including the experiments that are prohibited. My own present
opinion is that we need to extend the provisions of the Guidelines to all work being carried oat in the U.S., regardless of
source of funding. And further, that federal legislation is needed to accomplish this and to discourage the difficulties that
would arise from differing state and local actions. You will find more detail in the attached papers - one from a Congressional
briefing, and one a talk I gave at the Academy Forum. I hope that they are helpful. Good luck!