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DNA Violations


Scientists at the University of California have admitted violating the strict federal rules designed to curb the potential biological hazards of recombinant DNA research.

Scientists involved in the field are now raising questions about the surprising speed with which the group completed its research, in light of the strict guidelines they must follow. A group at Harvard is taking considerably longer to conduct similar experiments.

Researchers at the University of California have apparently already broken strict Federal rules recently designed to curb the potential biological hazards of recombinant DNA research. The California violation occurred in a well publicized experiment culminating last May when researchers inserted the rat gene that controls insulin production into bacteria that had not been certified for use in DNA experiments. The experiment created no hazard and researchers claim they destroyed it as soon as they realized their error. They later completed the experiment with certified bacteria.

The experiment generated a great deal of interest because it hints of a possible future use of recombinant DNA research to produce human insulin, needed especially for treatment of diabetes.

Everett I. Mendelsohn, Professor of the History of Science, said yesterday that prevention of a similar breach of regulation at Harvard depends totally on the self-regulation of the scientific community."

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