Throughout the recombinant DNA controversy of the 1970s, Singer argued that only national standards, not restrictions issued
by state or local governments, could assure a balance between safeguarding public health and the environment, and allowing
this promising new line of research to proceed without overly burdensome and widely-varying requirements for review and authorization.
Number of Image Pages:
2 (88,410 Bytes)
1977-06-06 (June 6, 1977)
California. State Assembly
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
[Testimony of Maxine Singer before the California State Legislature] (January 28, 1977)
I am sorry that my schedule resulted in a delay in my response to you. Enclosed is a copy of the testimony I prepared for
presentation before the California Assembly Committees on Health and Resources, Land Use and Energy last January. I'm
sure you realize that the actua1 testimony, as shown in the transcript, differed from the prepared testimony because of exchanges
with the Assembly members.
Perhaps the most pertinent additional information I can offer is to bring you up to date on activities in the Congress. After
several hearings, multiple bills and draft bi11s, new versions have been offered both in the House (HR7418) and Senate (S1217).
The two bills are not identical and at present it is difficult to predict how similar they will be prior to their being reported
out of Committees and voted on. It is apparent that a real sense of urgency exists in the Congress concerning the need promptly
to enact legislation that will control recombinant DNA research in both the private and public sector. Both bills provide
for licensing procedures for carrying out experiments, inspection of laboratories, regulations governing procedures, and civil
and criminal penalties.
Given the nature of the speculative hazards of recombinant DNA research and particularly the fact that escaped organisms will
not honor geographic boundaries, it is clear that only nation-wide safety measures can provide the confidence that experiments
will be conducted with minimal or negligible risk for all. Therefore, it is my belief that interested members of the California
legislature might want to inform themselves concerning Congressional efforts and to offer the Congress their advice on these
matters. In my view the whole country will be well-served by such participation. It is, I believe, less useful to press for
State or local action on this matter, for the reasons stated above as well as the fact that multiple regulatory mechanisms
will be both costly and confusing.
Should you wish to have additional information please get in touch with me again.