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March 24, 1976 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1976-03-24

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Eighty-Six Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Ml 48104


heat up energy fray

Wednesday, March 24, 1976

News Phone: 764-0552

Edited and managed by students at the University of Michigan

DNA research is OK

FOR SIX MONTHS, the nine men
and two women of Committee B
wrestled with an unenviable chore.
Appointed by Vice President for Re-
search Charles Overberger, the group
was asked to consider the policy as-.
pects of recombinant DNA research,
a relatively new field of inquiry in
microbiology. Scientists themselves
had warned that certain forms of
the study might carry risks, and oth-
ers suggested the possible hazards
should preclude pursuit of this infant
Committee B's task, therefore, was
to decide which forms of recombi-
nant DNA research should be per-
mitted at the University, and what
standards of safety should be set for
the laboratory. They read technical
journals, listened to speakers, attend-
ed public meetings of experts, talked
with interested colleagues, and gath-
ered Tuesday afternoons at the Ad-
ministration Building to share their
thoughts with each other.
Monday, he committee issued its
recommendations. The report, with
a sole dissenting opinion, shows im-
pressive wisdom in approving most
forms of recombinant DNA research
and in rejecting the doomsday sce-
nario embraced by critics of the ex-
reject the extreme notion that
research with any risks - no matter
how minimal - must be prohibited.
Were this argument accepted, it
would demand the cessation of not
only recombinant DNA research but
all forms of scientific study. Indeed,
it would demand the cessation of
most human activity. Driving a car,
crossing the street and taking a
shower all hold certain risks which
could lead to catastrophe - but the
actions outweigh the risks, and we
entinue to take them.
Through its six-month study, Com-
mittee B has determined that "the
potential benefits likely to arise from
(Recombinant DNA research) are
great," and that the risks are too
small to prohibit the genetic experi-
The committee also rejected the
position - articulated perhaps most
Editorial positions represent
consensus of the Daily staff.
News: Michael Blumfield, Phil Bovo-
voy, Rob Meachum, Mike Norten,
Ken Parsigian, Tim Schick, Bill
Editorial Page: Stephen Hersh, T o m
Arts Page: James Valk
Photo Technician: Pauline Lubens

frequently in Grade B science fiction
movies -- that "there are some
things man was not meant to
know." Some of the DNA critics be-
lieve genetic experiments fail in
that category. They buttress their
theory with scare stories of horrible
human mutations, biological warfare
and other evil applications.
But as supporters of the research
point out, it is difficult to imagine
any form of science which, by the
widest stretch of the imagination,
cannot be used by someone, some-
where for dangerous purposes. Far
more likely with recombinant DNA re-
search are the potential benefits: a
cure for diabetes, a cure for hemo-
philia, and other breakthroughs in
medicine and, possibly, agriculture.
MUAN IS CERTAINLY meant to pur-
sue these goals. And committee
B has incorporated adequate safe-
guards into its recommendations, in-
cluding the creation of a Biological
Research Review Committee to en-
sure that recombinant DNA research
at the University will not entail unac-
ceptable risks.
Committee B has used the best evi-
dence available, and appears to have
reached the correct conclusion. The
University must not* discard the op-
portunity to achieve these badly-
needed goals, but the research should
be submitted to reasonable safety re-
strictions and controls. To choose
any other path would endorse only
ignorance and fear, and would re-
ject the course toward which logic,
responsibility and a hope for the fu-
ture seem to point.
Editorial Staff
JEFF RIsTINE . ..... . Managing Editor
TIM SCHICK.........Executive Editor
STEPHEN HERSH.............Editorial Director
JEFF SORENSEN................... Arts Editor
CHERYL PILATE...............Magazine Editor
STAFF WRITERS: Susan Ades, Tom Allen, Glen
Allerhand, Marc Basson, Dana Bauman, David
Blomquist, James Burns, ]Sevin Counihan,
Jodi Dimick, Mitch Dunitz, Elaine Fletcher,
Phil Foley, Mark Friedlander, David Garfinkel,
Tom GodelI, Kurt Harju, Charlotte Heeg,
Richard James. Lois Josimovich, Tom Kettler,
Chris Kochmanski, Jay Levin, Andy Lilly, Ann
Marie Lipinski, George Lobsenz, Pauline Lu-
bens. Teri Maneau, Angelique Matney, Jim
Nicoll, Maureen Nolan, Mike Norton, Ken Par-
sigian, Kim Potter, Cathy Reutter, Anne
Marie Sohiavi, Karen Schulkins, Jeff Selbet,
Rick Sobel Tom Stevens, Steve Stojic, Cathy
Suyak. Jim Tobin, Jim Valk, Margaret Tan,
Andrew Zerman, David Whiting. Michael Beck-
man, Jon Pansius and Stephen Kursman.

issues of energy and the environment
are emerging from the campaign rhe-
toric of, the presidential sweepstakes as
among the central problems facing the
nation-and the candidates.
On both the Republican and Demo-
cratic fronts, campaign aides are busily
drafting and issuing position papers on
such matters as nuclear energy, oil im-
ports, synthetic fuel development, strip
mining, natural gas deregulation and off-
short oil drilling.
Those issues, they agree, will largely
shape our future lifestyle, economy, em-
ployment patterns and even foreign poli-
cy. They may also play a role in de-
termining who occupies the White House
in 1977.
TOWARD THAT END the Washing-
ton, D.C.-based League of Conservation
Voters has prepared an indepth evalua-
tion of each candidate's declared posi-
tion and voting record on 14 key energy
and environmental issues. The candidates
are rated from A to F on each issue.
The League, a non-partisan organiza-
tion composed of representatives from
such groups as the Sierra Club, the Isaac
WaltonrLeague and Friends of the Earth,
actively supports favored candidates. It
claimed 13 congressional victories out of
17 candidates it actively supported in
the last congressional elections. It clear-
ly has political clout, particularly among
the hundreds of thousands of voters who
belong to its affiliated institutions.
A preview of the League report-soon
to be released-reveals that Democrats
Morris Udall and Jimmy Carter share
the top honors. Each is rated "outstand-
ing" on both energy strategy and en-
vironmental principles.
At the other end, President Gerald
Ford and Alabama Governor George Wal-
lace share the dubious distinction of

'On both the

and Democratic fronts, cam-
paign aides are busily draft-
ing and issuing position pap-
ers on such matters as nuc-
lear energy, oil imports, syn-
thetic f u e l development,
strip mining, natural gas de-
regulation and offshore dril-
"hopeless" ratings. Former California
Governor Ronald Reagan does slightly
better with an overall "bad" score.
IN BETWEEN, with ratings of "fair"
to "poor," come Fred Harris, Senator
Henry Jackson, Senator Hubert Humph-
rey and Sargent Shriver, in declining
The more recent entries into the cam-
paign, such as Senator Frank Church
and California Governor Edmund Brown,
have not been evaluated.
One key issue for the League is nu-
clear power.
Both Carter and Udall are opposed
to rapid development of nuclear power,
though neither support a moratorium on
nuclear plant construction.
Carter is particularly well-informed
on the nuclear power issue, having done
graduate study as a nuclear engineer.
"When Carter talks about safety haz-
ards, types of plantshand disposal prob-
lems he knows what he's talking about,"
says League Chairperson Marion Edey.
BOTH CANDIDATES have also op-
posed uncontrolled stripmining. Udall
was floor manager for the stripmining
bill in the Senate, and Carter says strip-
mining is "not a logical approach to
meeting energy requirements."
Carter and Udall are also on record
as supporting greater federal control
and participation in the setting of oil
import quotas and domestic oil and
gas exploration. They share the belief
that oil companies should not own other
fuel sources, such as uranium and coal.
Both have expressed varying degrees
of opposition to the vertical integration
of the major oil companies, saying they
would split the wholesale and retail ends
of the business away from production
and refining.
Alternate fuel sources, such as geo-
thermal and solar, would be assigned
greater priorities than at present by
both Carter and Udall.


either the big unions or the corpora-
tions, while most of the other candi-
dates line up on one side or the other.
Carter and Udall's policies contrast
sharply with those of their Republican
opponents, particularly in the areas of
nuclear power, federal controls over gas
and oil, and public participation in en-
ergy development.
Ford favors rapid expansion of fed-
eral offshore leasing and oil drilling;
massive federal subsidies for corporate
development of synthetic fuels and the
breeder reactor; nullification of signifi-
cant portions of the Clean Air Act; a
freezing on auto emission standards; and
the removal of federal controls over
oil pricing.
Ford has also pushed for deregula-
tion of natural gas and tax incentives
for the energy corporations. He is on
record as opposing public energy enter-
prises in federal territories, and his ad-
ministration has lobbied against all at-
tempts to break up the oil companies.
He twice vetoed the federal stripmining
FORD WILL FIND little to attack
in the energy policies of his Republican
opponent, Ronald Reagan. The only sig-
nificant difference to date is Reagan's
plan toturn federal programs over to
the states where, experience teaches,
they may be more vulnerable to the
power of industry.
Reagan, like Ford, supports full scale
development of nuclear power. He would
push development of Western coal, uran-
ium, oil shale and other energy sources,
giving federal subsidies and tax incen-
tives to private devolopers.
As Governor of California, Reagan op-
posed the landmark coastal initiative,
which set strict standards over coastal
development. However, even his critics
agree that his record is strong on
water pollution.
Senator Henry Jockson is ranked in
the League report as only "fair to poor"


due to his overall energy policies, but
even his staunchest critics agree that
he has a strong record on the envi-
ronment. Jackson virtually created the
National Environmental Policy Act and
the Council on Environmental Quality.
He sponsored the stripmining bill and
authored the Land Use Planning Bill.
He also claims principle credit for the
Land and Water Conservation Fund, set
up to purchase lands for national parks
and other public preserves.
Se the most powerful man in Wash-
ington on energy policy, by virtue of
his position as chairman of the Senate
Interior Committee. But it is on en-
ergy issues that he rankles his critics.
He is an ardent proponent of nuclear
power and supports a $6 billion federal
subsidy for private development of syn-
thetic fuel.
Edey says that Jackson would be "at
once more destructive, and better, than
The non-candidate from Minnesota
has shown little interest or activism on
the major energy issues. Though he has
supported greater research into solar
power since 1962, he also voted in favor
of funding the Clinch River demonstra-
tion breeder reactor and spoke in its
behalf. He co-sponsored federal land use
legislation in 1975, but his votes on the
stripmining bill were conspicuous by their
Overall, Humphrey is viewed by the
League as a "business as usual" candi-
date on energy issues, except-when they
bear directly on labor and the economy,
his real concerns.
Governor George Wallace, who shares
the bottom rating with Ford, has been
closed-mouthed on energy and environ-
mental issues to the point of creating
a policy vacuum. He has made almost
no public statements on the issues and
refuses to respond to questionaires.


high scores for being

its two favorites
independent of


What PIRGIM has done

for us


Sports Staff
Sports Editor
RICH LERNER.........Executive Sports
ANDY GLAZER ........Managing Sports
RICK BONINO ..........Associate Sports
NIGHT EDITORS: Tom Cameron, Enid
man, Kathy Henneghan, Ed Lange,
Lewis, Marcia Katz, John Niemeyer.


STAFF WRITERS: Dennis Bash, Paul Campbell,
Marybeth Dillon, Ernie Dunbar, Henry Engel-
ihardt, Jeff Frank, Cindy Gatziolis. Jerome
Hilbert, Don MacLachian, Rick Maddock, Bob
Miller, Jim Powers, Patrick Rode, John
Schwartz, Mark Whitney.

pus are at least vaguely
aware of PIRGIM as a student
organization that uses research
and advocacy to work for jus-
tice and progress.
But we have found relatively
few know how many of the spe-
cific projects we at PIRGIM
has undertaken. Here are a
TION. PIRGIM issued a com-
prehensive report, "State Sec-
rets," on the obstacles citizens
face in gaining access to gov-
ernment records at the state
and local level. The report was
widely reported in the press
and the subject of several fav-
orable newspaper editorials. It
was followed by creation of a
coalition to support a new Free-
dom of Information law to pro-
tect the citizen's right to know
what the government is doing.
This month, the PIRGIM-draft-
ed bill was introduced by Rep.
Perry Bullard (D-Ann Arbor).
PIRGIM, Common Cause, and
others are now working togeth-
er to lobby it through.
We didn't wait for the new
bill to pass, however. When
PIRGIM was denied access to

minutes and proposed rules be-
ing considered by the state
Board of Pharmacy, we sued
under the present, weak law
and succeeded in winning a pre-
cedent that the public has the
right to know in advance what
proposals are being discussed
by government boards.
DRUG COSTS. We have com-
pleted the last of a three-part
project to lower the cost to con-
sumers of prescription drugs. In
coalition with the Michigan
Citizens Lobby, the pharma-
cists' professional association,
and others, we helped lobby
through 1974 Pharmacy Act
amendments which allow con-
sumers to buy lower-cost ge-
neric drugs, and which require
druggists to display a sign with
the prices of commonly filled
Then we monitored Beard of
Pharmacy implementation of
the new law, insuring that new
riles would make the prices
readily available.
Following that, in an action
rmmnleted 1st December. we ne-
titinned for and finally got rules
which leeali7ed adirertisina of
nrescrintion drg Prices, which
sGtdi-q showed conid increase
comnetition and lower prices.


radioact i v e

waste from nuclear
power plants . . . h a s
been turned into legis-
lation, House Bill

The Federal Trade Commis-
sion is now proposing the same
principle nationwide.
Meanwhile, PIRGIM is again
in the legislature trying to re-
move loopholes in the 1974 law.
'PIRGIs report on
the dangers in trans-

many of the provisions PIRGIM
and other consumer advocates
had blocked. The two versions
are now in a House-Senate con-
ference committee, and we are
watching to insure that the con-
sumer isn't forgotten in the pro-
cess of compromising them.
summer a determined try by
mining interests emerged to de-
stroy Michign's 1970 Environ-
mental Protection Act, the na-
tion's first basic law to let citi-
zens sue to stop degradation of
the environment. Through the
simmer and into the fall, PIR-
GIM's work to block it included
intensive lobbying by students
from many campuses, who vis-
ited Lansing or raised the
alarm in letters to their legisla-
tors or to hometown newsnav-
ers. Such efforts by a coalition
including every environmental
group in the state turned back
the tide in the House of Repre-
sentatives. which sent an inof-
fensive bill to conference com-
mittee, where the whole issue
is expected to die for this year.
The EPA emerged unscathed.
In 1973, PIRGIM issued its re-
port on the dangers in trans-
porting radioactive waste ma-

terials from nuclear power
plants, "Fallout on the Free-
way." It has now been turned
into legislation, House Bill 5318,
pending in the House Public
Health Committee. P I R G I M
testimony at hearings on the
bill made headlines across the
IN 1975, WE petitioned the
Public Service Commission to
require utilities to inform their
customers of the plans made to
evacuate people living near nu-
clear plants in case of a serious
emergency which might produce
an explosion. The petitions were
accepted last month for hear-
ing, expected early in April.
This year PIRGIM decided to
carry the nuclear safety ques-
tion to the people of Michigan.
PIRGIM members are seeking
212,000 signature on a petition
to qualify for a statewide ballot.
If nassed, the "Safe Energy
Initiative" would allow future
unclear plants in Michigan only
if they met far more stringent
safety and financial liability
standards than do present
Toseph Tuchinsky is a PJR-
GIM staff member.

5318, pending
Public Health

in the

TECTION. After the Michigan
Senate passed a very weak ver-
sion of Senate Bill 1, the "Mich-
igan Consumer Protection Act,"
despite our lobbying, we tried
again in the House. It passed a
much stronger version, bearing







10, 1975.

DNA 3. The Forum has shown that
genetic engineering of the fu-
To The Daily: ture is becoming one of the out-
The DNA Forum in actual fact standing concerns and worries.
did not resolve any major prob- There were three forms of re-
tems, but it made us aware of sponse to this problem: (i) we
the locus of important prob- have always done genetic engi-
tems. neering in the form of vaccines
1. The Forum made it clear and the like, so there is noth-
to all participants, and the pub- ing new about it; (ii) we shall
tic at large, that nowadays even be able to stop genetic engineer-
specific and highly specialized ing when it reaches the level
problems such as the DNA re- of genetic manipulation of hu-
search, cannot be treated as man beings; (iii) we are fool-
"thinas in themselve." ht in- ish and naar-siuhted (the third

4. Yet another issue of im-
portance which the Forum cry-
stallized is of a more subtle
nature. It concerns the nature
of moral concepts by means of
which gains and losses of Re-
combinant DNA research can be
wisely and legitimately assess-
Is it true, as one school of
thought maintained, that cost/
benefit analysis is applicable
to every and any social and hu-
man issue, so that ultimately we
can work out a formula which

and therefore cannot be account-
ed for in any other terms or
currencies, and which cannot
be traded off for economic bene-
The debate between the utili-
tarians (the first school) and
the humanists (the second
school) is by no means limited
to the DNA problem. These two
positions can be recognized in
various other debates on the na-
ture of science. It must be ad-
mitted that until recently the
utilitarians had the upper-hand

ly the best gauge available for
a very limited purpose - to
show how productive the econo-
my is in a commercial sense
and the extent to which the
economic machinery is speed-
ing up or slowing down," the
humanist claims that some qual-
ities are irreducible to quanti-
ties, seem to be gaining validi-
5. The DNA debate did not re-
solve the key issue - that of
safety and future hazards of the
research W were itol that

N~K~$~k ~

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