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The Marshall W. Nirenberg Papers

Title:
Letter from Christian B. Anfinsen to Marshall W. Nirenberg pdf (191,854 Bytes) transcript of pdf
Letter from Christian B. Anfinsen to Marshall W. Nirenberg
Description:
Anfinsen requests Nirenberg's support for an effort to defend the international treaty outlawing biological weapons. The treaty is reported to be threatened "not by some small signatory nation openly violating its provisions, but as a result of recently stepped-up military interest at home and abroad in biomedical technologies and their chemical and biological potential." Anfinsen urges Nirenberg to sign a pledge, included with the letter, against military use of biological research at home and abroad.
Number of Image Pages:
3 (191,854 Bytes)
Date:
1989-07-26 (July 26, 1989)
Creator:
Anfinsen, Christian B.
Recipient:
Nirenberg, Marshall W.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Laboratory of Biochemical Genetics
Rights:
Reproduced with permission of Libby Anfinsen.
Exhibit Category:
Beyond the Laboratory: Professional, Personal, and Political Life, 1967-2002
Box Number: 18
Folder Number: 22
Unique Identifier:
JJBBSL
Accession Number:
2001-013
Document Type:
Letters (correspondence)
Language:
English
Format:
application/pdf
image/tif
Physical Condition:
Good
Series: Series III: Laboratory Administration, [1959]-1993
SubSeries: Daily Books, 1968-1996
Folder: #401 - #429, 1988 Oct-1990 Feb
Transcript:
July 26, 1989
Dear Marshall Nirenberg,
I am writing to request your support for an effort of great importance to all biologists and chemists. As you may already know, the international treaty outlawing biological weapons is currently threatened. This treaty, the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, is the strongest disarmament treaty in existence, banning not only the deployment and stockpiling of biological weapons, but their development as well. Ironically, the treaty is threatened not by some small signatory nation openly violating its provisions, but as a result of recently stepped-up military interest at home and abroad in biomedical technologies and their chemical and biological potential.
I urge you to join me and many other scientists by sponsoring an effort to make our voices heard on this important and disturbing issue.
An ad hoc group of colleagues is now circulating a pledge against the military use of biological research both in the U.S. and other countries. By signing this pledge, scientists promise not to engage knowingly in research or teaching that would further the development of chemical or biological arms. This campaign, conducted with the aid of the non-profit organization the Council for Responsible Genetics, has already garnered the signatures of more than 800 of our colleagues in the U.S., but we hope to reach many more. Ultimately, a group of internationally prominent scientists will present the signatures we collect to the next review conference on the treaty (in 1991) along with a call for strengthened verification measures.
This effort is particularly important now. Because the biological weapons convention does not now include verification measures, advances in our fields have led to increased mistrust between nations and suspicion that biotechnology may be exploited for offensive purposes under the guise of defensive research. This mistrust can be seen in the policies of the last administration in the U.S. which quadrupled-funds for research in the Army's biological defense program. And suspicion can be seen in stepped-up research efforts in other countries as well.
The concern of the signatory nations to the Biological Weapons Convention was evident when the convention was reviewed three years ago. They mandated consideration of a new verification protocol at the 1991 review conference. We need your help now to maintain international confidence in the treaty and to insure that the opportunity to strengthen it in 1991 will not be lost. Your name as a sponsor of the pledge will help us to organize support among the professional scientific community, making a clear statement of opposition to the military use of biomedical research.
Please respond to me on this at the above address at your earliest convenience. I am enclosing a sheet to facilitate the process. Thank you for your help,
Sincerely yours,
Christian Anfinsen
The Pledge against the military use of biological research
We, the undersigned biologists and chemists, oppose the use of our research for military purposes. Rapid advances in biotechnology have catalyzed a growing interest by the military in many countries in chemical and biological weapons and in the possible development of new and novel chemical and biological warfare agents. We are concerned that this may lead to another arms race. We believe that biomedical research should support rather than threaten life. Therefore, We Pledge not to engage knowingly in research and teaching that will further the development of chemical and biological warfare agents.
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2010-10-15
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