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Letter from Joshua Lederberg to Michael Jacobson

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December 29, 1976 Dr. Michael Jacobson Center for Science in the Public Interest 1757 S Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20009 Dear Dr. Jacobson, This is in reply to your letter of December 13th concerning food additives. The best I can recall the quotation is a paraphrase, that appeared with my approval in a popular magazine, of the position that I aggued at greater length in my article that appeared in "Hoe Safe Is Safe?" I guass my position is possibly more complicated than you would prefer, but I recommend that you read the article to get an account of it that I think I would still adhere to. I had an interesting debate at that time with Jim Turner and had been pleased to be able to continue that discussion from time to time. As I said, it is not easy to summarize my position. But perhaps it might go something like this: the Delaney Amendment is a scientific monstrosity, but at least until recently has manifestly worked very strongly in the public interest. I would hope that we could come up with some still more rational solutions to the problem of balancing special interests, public hazards, benefits and risks; but until some clear-cut alternative is available, I would certainly not advocate revoking the amendment. Un- fortunately we seem to be living in such an adversarial climate that criticism of the detail of a given approach is likely to be mistaken for a binary choice. I can see what you have to complain about in the general thrust of the $eneral goods' propaganda. But I would be curious to know just what it was about the statement they chose to quote that&you disagree about. Or is it just the identity of the quoter. On another occasion, I wrote to commissioner Schmit and suggested that he attempt to impose an overall ban on all synthetic food colors regardless of the present state of evidence about their safety. My argument was that I did not believe that we had any scientific methodology that could convincingly prove that one colo

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