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Forum on DNA Research Starts Today

'Science for the People' Goes to Washington

By Alexa D. Deric

Four Harvard professors will participate today on both sides of a Washington forum dealing with recombinant DNA research sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).

The NAS invited Ruth Hubbard '44, lecturer on Biology, Bernard D. Davis '36, Lehman Professor of Bacterial Physiology at the Med School. Matthew S. Meselson, chairman of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Jonathan R. Beckwith '57, professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at the Med School, to speak at the three-day conference.

The Coalition for Responsible Genetic Research, which includes the Cambridge-based Science for the People, a citizens group, will hold a news conference in Washington today calling for a world-wide moratorium on the controversial genetic research shortly before the NAS forum begins.

Hubbard and Beckwith, members of these groups, plan to participate in both conferences

Hubbard, referring to the recent debates in the city council on the continuation of DNA research at Harvard said yesterday, "What happened in Cambridge was a beginning for opening up the discussion on a much broader basis. The Academy forum is another opportunity to open up the discussion."

Davis, an advocate of continuing research with DNA who will be speaking at the NAS forum, said yesterday, "I feel the public has been misled about the real hazards of research," but declined further comment. Meselson was unavailable for comment.

Steve Aldrich '78, a Harvard student and member of Science for the People, said yesterday. "It's interesting to note that the NAS conference is being sponsored by pharmaceutical companies, all of whom stand to profit immensely from the application of DNA recombinant techniques."

He added that scientists tend to serve the interest of profit rather than those of the people.

The DNA research issue has reached national and possibly legislative importance. Diane Echevarria, a spokesperson for Science for the People and lab technician said yesterday. "The issue is larger than the laboratory. The group among us that sponsored the forum on DNA at Harvard are organizing the Washington trip."

The NAS forum, with about 30 scientists participating, will cover the benefits and hazards of recombinant DNA research.

A spokesperson for Science for the People from Cambridge who is attending both Washington meetings said yesterday, "The NAS forum is not representative." He added, "the greatest risk is born by the laboratory technicians, but they have been completely excluded from the decision making process.

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