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July 11, 1979 - Image 4

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Michigan Daily, 1979-07-11

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Page 4-Wednesday, July 11, 1979-The Michigan Daily
Michigan Daily
Eighty-nine Years of Editorial Freedom
420 Maynard St., Ann Arbor, Ml. 48109
Vol. LXXXIX, No. 41-S News Phone: 764-0552
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan
Gov't should accept
Agent Orange blame
AGENT ORANGE, code name for the toxic
herbicide U.S. Armed Forces sprayed on
Vietnam's landscape during the war, continues to
haunt the government for good reason.
The chemical, intended to reduce food supplies
and the jungle's camouflage, had devastating
long-term results. It contains dioxine, one of the
most toxic substances known, and has allegedly
induced a broad range of health maladies.
Accusations were first made by the Vietnamese
when women exposed to Agent Orange experien-
ced cancer, sterility, and stillbirths, and gave bir-
th to deformed children. Agent Orange also affec-
ted countless American soldiers stationed in Viet-
nam, and they reportedly have developed
numerous health problems of varying severity.
Government studies fail to link the substance to
the illnesses conclusively. Government scientists
rebut claims that the birth defects of veterans'
children were caused by Agent Orange, since only
exposed women can pass the defects on. But other
medical problems, including skin rashes, color
blindness, and cancer, have arisen among
American GIs after exposure to Agent Orange.
Congressional hearings have probed the
problem and the Veterans Administrations' reluc-
tance to deal with it. Rep. Bob Eckhardt (D-Tex.)
said he wanted the Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare to get involved with the
issue, because of what he calls the Defense Depar-
tment's obvious bias and inaction on the issueThis
seems a wise shift which might benefit ailing GIs.
A study which would examine the health of 2,000
veterans who handled Agent Orange during the
war was recently announced. But the action is
tardy and insufficient. Any action or shift of
responsibility must be undertaken promptly,
before health care bills devastate more veterans.
Ironically, tactics used to fight the enemy back-
fired and the indiscriminate use of chemicals in
jured our own soldiers and their families as well.
Studies are welcome, but should not impede the
Veterans Administrations' actions to award
financial compensation to affected Vietnam

Companies ignore voluntary
controls on gene research

Federal health administrators,
caught in a controversy over
safety guidelines on genetic
engineering by private com-
panies, still hope that firms can
be persuaded to voluntarily com-
ply with the mandatory standar-
ds imposed on academic resear-
In late May, the National In-
stitutes' of Health (NIH) Recom-
binant DNA Advisory Committee
(RAC) voted to recommend to
the NIH that voluntary com-
pliance by private industry was
inadequate. It urged mandatory

mittee member Dr. Sheldon
However, the NIH is continuing
to develop procedures for a
voluntary compliance program,
including ways to protect a com-
pany's proprietary date from
The program would encourage
private firms to establish In-
stitutional Biohazard Commit-
tees similar to those appointed by
universities that conduct

'It seems that this is one of the most bizarre
situations in the history of U.S. science and
technology. We sit here in discussions, when a
great variety of work is being done around
the country without any accountability at all.'
-Dr. Sheldon Krimsky,
member of the Recombinant DNA
Advisory Committee

notice of its intent to regulate all
recombinant DNA research
leading to product manufac-
turing last December. But when
pharmaceutical companies
challenged the agency's
authority- to regulate research,
the FDA quickly backed down.
Washington sources say that it
has decided instead to support
the NIH plan for voluntary com-
Public interest and labor
groups met recently with Peter
Libassi, general counsel of HEW,
to register opposition to the
proposal for voluntary
guidelines. They argued that the
Environmental Protection Agen-
cy and the Department of Labor's
Occupational Safety and Health
Administration should take an
active role in regulating DNA
research. So far, both
organizations have chosen to
leave the initiative to the FDA
and the NIH.
DEPENDING ON the strength
of the opposition, the alternative
to voluntary compliance may be
new legislation, which would lay
a legal framework for imposing
mandatory controls.
Aides to Sen. Adlai Stevenson
Jr. (D-Ill.), chairman of the
Senate subcommittee on science
snd space, say they are keeping a
close eye on the situation and
may introduce legislation if a
satisfactory resolution cannot be
found. In the last Congress,
Stevenson sponsored a bill that
sought to extend the NIH
guidelines to private industry.
Industry remains opposed to
any such legislation. But with in-
dustrial unions beginning to
realize that the research will soon
involve large numbers of their
members, the pressures on
Congress are already beginning
to build.
David Dickson is the Wash-
ington, D.C. news editor of
the British science journal,
Nature. He wrote this piece
for Pacific News Service.

guidelines for private firms,
similar to those safety standards
imposed on researchers
receiving government grants.
concern that only one company
has voluntarily complied with the
guidelines since they were im-
posed last December. "It seems
that this is one of the most bizarre
situations in the history of U.S.
science and technology. We sit
here in discussions, when a great
variety of work is being done
around the country without any
accountability at all," said com'
Editorials which appear without a
hyline represent a concensus opinion
of the Daily's editorial board. All
other editorials, as well as cartoons,
are the opinions of the individuals
who submit them.

federally funded recombinant
DNA research. The response of
industry representatives who
have seen the voluntary guide-
lines proposal has been positive.
THE FINAL decision on
whether or not mandatory
guidelines can be imposed on the
private firms, and who should
impose them, will be made by
Department of Health,
Education, and Welfare (HEW).
Secretary Joseph Califano.
The Food and Drug Ad-
ministration (FDA), at the
request of Califano, published a
- - a


Editorial Director
........ Arts Editor

LISA CULBERSON ......................... Business Manager
ARIENESARYAN -............................Sa .esManager
BETH WARREN--........................ Display Manager
BETH BASSLER..................... ...Classified Manager
STAN BERKMAN .............. National Adertising Manager
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