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Letter from Keith R. Yamamoto to Paul Warenski (c/o U. S. Representative Wayne Owens)

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Disciplines
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Law
  • Political Science

Abstract

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO i BERXELEY ’ DAVJS l JRVJNE l LOS ANCELES l JW’ERSJDE * SAN DIEGO * SAN FJUNCJSCO : SAN-J-A BARBARA l SANTA CRUZ SCHOOL OF MEDICINE SAN FRANCISCO. CALIFORNIA 94143-044~ DEPARTMENT OF BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS (415) 4164324 July 18, 1988 Mr. Paul Warenski c/o Representative Wayne Owens 1728 Longworth House Office Building Washington, DC 20515 Dear Mr. Warenski: I support in strongest terms the bill in preparation by Representative Owens to transfer all funds for the Biological Defense Program from the Department of Defense into the budget of National Institutes of Health. Together with Charles Piller, I recently coauthored a book, "Gene Wars: Military Control Over the New Genetic .Technologies" (Beachtree/William Morrow, 1988) that investigated in detail the history and present status of this Program. I am also a molecular biologist, and Professor and Vice Chairman in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of California, San Francisco, as well as Chairman of the Molecular Biology Study Section of the NIH. My laboratory carries out basic research on mechanisms of gene expres- sion, and we use recombinant DNA and monoclonal antibody technology as primary research tools on a daily basis. Thus, I am quite familiar with both the political and the scientific sides of this issue. Briefly, there are three major problems with DQD control over the Biological Defense Program. The first concerns arms control. The Pentagon has proclaimed recombinant DNA and monoclonal antibody technologies as powerful new tools that ostensibly facilitate the production (by our enemies) of powerful and novel weaponry. On the contrary, biological weapons are neither more useful nor more control- lable when generated by these new techniques. Given this rationale for its own intense efforts in this arena,much of the Pentagon's research effort seems to employ biotechnology to eliminate the distinction between defensive a

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