Biotech Panel Wrestles With Oversight Role

New DNA technology outpaces NIH committee's original charter as other agencies move to regulate experiments in genetics. WASHINGTON--A government panel that oversees scientific experiments involving genetically engineered organisms is grappling with an issue that could alter the way in which that science is performed. The National Institutes of Health's Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (known as "the RAC"), was formed in 1974 after scientists recognized the need for guidelines to control the

Diana Morgan
Feb 18, 1990


New DNA technology outpaces NIH committee's original charter as other agencies move to regulate experiments in genetics.
WASHINGTON--A government panel that oversees scientific experiments involving genetically engineered organisms is grappling with an issue that could alter the way in which that science is performed. The National Institutes of Health's Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (known as "the RAC"), was formed in 1974 after scientists recognized the need for guidelines to control the results of a new technology that allowed researchers to splice together genes to form artificial genetic hybrids in a process called recombinant DNA.

But now that panel is being forced to adjust to a changing situation that threatens to undo the order that has existed for the past decade.

One problem facing RAC is that the technology doesn't stand still. Biotechnologists have developed new ways to make large quantities of DNA and to introduce DNA into cells that don't...

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