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June 11, 1982

'Venice' Is Not Sinking (The Water Is Rising): Some Views on Biomedical Research

JAMA. 1982;247(22):3072-3075. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320470020010

Scientific Freedom and Public Interest  In a country like the United States with a highly educated population, an active press, and diversity of culture and opinion, openness is both possible and indispensable in considering the implications of a subject like biomedical research. This is illustrated in the recent, but now cooling, debates over the use of technology for genetic recombination. The results can be extrapolated to other kinds of highly charged scientific and medical dilemmas that face society. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) was the primary focus of the recombinant DNA debate, but other federal agencies, Congress, many communities, public interest groups, and industry were all involved.In our deliberations at the NIH, we actively sought all information that might bear on the putative future hazards of recombinant DNA research. We learned many things. These did not include new scientific data that made the hypothetical risks more likely than