Interviewee: Paul Berg. Possible dangers of recombinant DNA.
And then there were a series of "what-ifs" if you will, people imagined of how this could be dangerous. Could you put a toxin gene clostridium botulinum toxin gene into E. coli, then you might have an E. coli that's producing a dangerous toxin and that would certainly be undesirable.
In 1974, scientists in the field of recombinant DNA drafted a letter calling upon "scientists throughout the world" to suspend certain types of studies until hazards could be assessed. Paul Berg talks about the "Moratorium Letter."
Paul Berg's student, Janet Mertz, planned an experiment that would recombine DNA from a monkey virus with DNA from a bacterium that lives in the human gut. Berg describes colleague Bob Pollack's outrage at this.