Chapter 2 : A Federal Case

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Three members of the RAC (Adelberg, Hogness and Thomas) were actively conducting recombinant DNA experiments. The majority were not, but every member was an expert in the technologies immediately concerned with recombinant DNA experimentation. A fear that cryptic viral genes might be unwittingly attached to bacterial genomes and spread potential carcinogens led to scaling of risks of using genes from humans and other warm-blooded creatures as among the most dangerous. The shotgun experiments in which uncharacterized eukaryotic DNA would be randomly attached to the sticky ends of restriction enzyme-treated prokaryotic genes also provided great anxiety. In addition to formulating guidelines, they were to advise the NIH director on (i) the conditions which the NIH should impose on its grantees and contractors working with recombinant DNA molecules, (ii) the level of effort the NIH should make to provide high containment facilities, and (iii) steps NIH should take to stimulate research to reduce the biohazards. The Williams report also recommended a national-level central advisory service named the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Group (GMAG).

Citation: Fredrickson D. 2001. A Federal Case, p 28-43. In The Recombinant DNA Controversy. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555818029.ch2
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