Bridging evolutionary barriers, Robert Pollack
Interviewee: Robert Pollack. Renowned biologist and philosopher Robert Pollack reflects on his concern over the potential danger of Janet Mertz's experiment inserting a cancer-causing gene from a monkey virus into a bacterium that lives in humans. (DNAi Location: MAnipulation > Revolution > Players >The controversy > Bridging evolutionary barriers)
I posed to her the simple question, whether she had thought about the fact that she was bridging evolutionary barriers that had existed since the last common ancestors of bacteria and people, by putting a viral genome from a primate virus into a bacterium, and whether that might jump a species barrier and cause someone to develop colon tumors from transformation of their colon lining as this bacterium established itself in their gut.
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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 talks about why experiments with recombinant DNA set off a firestorm of controversy, including a moratorium on further experimentation with rDNA.
Robert Horsch explains the mechanism by which agrobacterium delivers its DNA "parcel."
The controversy: With recombinant DNA, scientists had the means to manipulate living things. But could there be a danger in "playing God?" While some were thrilled by the potential of these new techniques to combat genetic diseases such as cancer, others
Paul Berg speaks about his student Janet Mertz's experiment to make the first recombinant DNA molecule.
Paul Berg discusses the usefulness of recombinant DNA to isolate and study genes.
Herb Boyer reflects on the importance of their work on rDNA technology and its impact on understanding the genetics of higher organisms.
Paul Berg recollects his reaction to his colleague Bob Pollack's opposition to experimentation with recombinant DNA.
Robert Horsch talks about agrobacterium as a ready-made delivery system for getting foreign DNA into plants.
Robert Horsch talks about the gene gun: a physical method of delivering genes into plant cells.