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October 28, 1974

Shaking Hands With the Future

JAMA. 1974;230(4):589-590. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03240040059039

Scientists resent outside interference with their research activities. At the 1974 Annual Meeting of the Federation for Clinical Research, its Public Policy Committee expressed concern that the two new types of review groups—Ethical Review Groups and Protection Committees—which would be established by the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (DHEW) might serve to stifle research activity by imposing excessive bureaucratic obstacles to obtaining informed consent for human experimentation.

It is considerate of DHEW not to insist on obtaining informed consent from bacteria and viruses. Just think what that would do to scientific research! It is a pity, though, that these microorganisms cannot keep us informed about what they will do to us after we have experimented with them. Such information might deter experiments in regions not reached by the restraining hand of governmental agencies. Areas that are hazardous to man are not limited to human experimentation.

One such area