Asilomar meeting. February 1975. (L to R) Maxine Singer, Norton Zinder, Sydney Brenner, Paul Berg.
With the invention of recombinant DNA (rDNA), scientists were faced with the daunting task of determining whether the new technology was safe. Was the ability to splice genes the biological equivalent of the atom bomb or the telescope?
These concerns were addressed in 1975 at the Asilomar conference center in California, where scientists, lawyers, and the media gathered for grueling debate.
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."