In this letter, Singer described the depth of her engagement in the recombinant DNA debate and the toll the large amount of
time she was spending on matters of science policy had taken on her own research. Singer was involved in recombinant DNA
policy for much of the ten years between 1973 and 1983.
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1977-07-05 (July 5, 1977)
Bernhard, C. G.
Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
Original Repository: Library of Congress. Maxine Singer Papers
Reproduced with permission of the Library of Congress.
Risk, Regulation, and Scientific Citizenship: The Controversy over Recombinant DNA Research
Thank you very much for the honor of the invitation to participate in the Nobel Symposium on "Ethics for Science Policy"
to be held in Stockholm, August 20-25, 1978. It would indeed be a privilege to join in the distinguished program you are planning.
Therefore I am very sorry to write and say that I am unable to accept the invitation. There are two primary reasons for this,
and they are related. During
the past several years I have spent a great deal of time with the recombinant DNA problem in the United States. When I started
these activities in 1973 I did not imagine, nor did I intend, that they would become so demanding of my time. In fact my own
research has suffered a great deal and more importantly, the young post-doctoral fellows in my laboratory have missed the
attention that they both expect and deserve. That is one reason that I am trying hard to curtail my activities in this regard.
The second reason is that while I have certainly learned a great deal about the relation of scientists to the rest of society,
it has all been in the limited context of the recombinant DNA debate. I have not given a great deal of thought to the more
general aspects of the problem. Thus I could not make a substantial contribution to what will clearly be a most scholarly
discussion of these problems.
Thank you again for the invitation and please accept my best wishes for the success of the Symposium.