Possible dangers of recombinant DNA, Paul Berg
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.
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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 talks about why experiments with recombinant DNA set off a firestorm of controversy, including a moratorium on further experimentation with rDNA.
Paul Berg discusses the usefulness of recombinant DNA to isolate and study genes.
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.
Paul Berg speaks about his student Janet Mertz's experiment to make the first recombinant DNA molecule.
Paul Berg talks about cohesive (sticky) ends and their significance in genetic engineering.
Paul Berg speaks about Herbert Boyer's research into the process by which an organism, such as a bacterium, can recognize and destroy foreign DNA.
Paul Berg recollects his reaction to his colleague Bob Pollack's opposition to experimentation with recombinant DNA.
Image of Paul Berg, Brooklyn-bred chemistry whiz. Known for his pioneering work in recombinant DNA, which won him a Nobel Prize in 1980.
Asilomar meeting. February 1975. (L to R) Maxine Singer, Norton Zinder, Sydney Brenner, Paul Berg.