The Bundestag is about to hand down a decision whether biotech work can continue

FRANKFURT--It's not often that a country grapples publicly with its future in a key area of science and technology. But that's what is happening now in West Germany. Later this month, a plenary session of the Bundestag (the nation's parliament) will begin debating the report of a parliamentary commission, entitled Prospects and Risks of Genetic Engineering, which recommends a total ban on the release of genetically manipulated microorganisms into the environment. The results of this debate are likely to be formalized in West Germany's first comprehensive law on recombinant DNA activities, expected to be passed by the end of May.

To say that West Germans are anxiously awaiting the law would be an understatement. Scientists, naturally, are worried that the government will make it impossible to continue their experiments. Restrictive regulations have already turned West Germany...

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