Biotech Safety Issue Downplayed

AMSTERDAM—In a session specifically devoted to safety, participants at the 4th European Congress of Biotechnology held here last month expressed virtually no concern about potential dangers during large-scale production of microbes containing recombinant DNA or following the release of such organisms into the environment. Kees Winkler from the University of Utrecht, in views that were not challenged, argued that because such bacteria—like those in the natural world—would have

Bernard Dixon
Jul 12, 1987
AMSTERDAM—In a session specifically devoted to safety, participants at the 4th European Congress of Biotechnology held here last month expressed virtually no concern about potential dangers during large-scale production of microbes containing recombinant DNA or following the release of such organisms into the environment.

Kees Winkler from the University of Utrecht, in views that were not challenged, argued that because such bacteria—like those in the natural world—would have to surmount various obstacles before gaining access to the body, there was no realistic prospect of their causing disease. He said that immune defenses and physical barriers to entry would prevent any adverse consequences.

In another session, Michael Teuber of West Germany's Bundesanstalt fur Milchforschung (Federal Center for Dairy Re search) in Kiel expressed greater caution. Discussing possible applications of genetically manipulated organisms in food, he reminded his audience that at least one bacterium likely to be widely used in the food...

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