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News ::
Open Letter to Massachusetts Public Health Officials and Academics
31 Mar 2000
Thanks to presenters at the BioDevastation Conference this past weekend in Boston, it is now clear that there are very significant public health risks associated with genetic engineering...
Open Letter to Massachusetts Public Health Officials and Academics

Gentlemen, Ladies:

Thanks to presenters at the BioDevastation Conference this past weekend in Boston, it is now clear that there are very significant public health risks associated with genetic engineering.

While we do not agree with the theory that HIV is the intentional product of genetic engineering in biological weapons laboratories, we do recognize the possibility of accidental viral mutations in these and other laboratories, and their subsequent spread through the production of tissue culture media used in vaccination programs in central Africa, New York and San Francisco during the late 1970s.

We also recognize the possibility that new strains of plant and animal (including human) viruses and bacteria may result from the recombination of genetic materials to create promotor vectors used in producing genetically engineered food crops.

Therefore we want to know what measures are being taken by public health officials to assure that there are no accidental escapes of dangerous viruses and bacteria from genetic engineering laboratories.

Specifically, what is being done to assure that people who work in genetic engineering laboratories are not the accidental vectors of dangerous viruses and bacteria into the communities where they live?

Also, what have you done to assure that the Hynes Convention Center has not become contaminated with dangerous viruses and bacteria that may have come with the participants in Bio2000, or on their product demonstrations? Are there proven techniques for detecting dangerous viruses and bacteria in public spaces?

In the event of an outbreak of a viral or bacterial disease, what measures do you have in place to arrest its spread? What resources do you have in place for the treatment of the victims of such potential outbreaks? How would the families of victims of such outbreaks be compensated?

What types of insurance coverage against such liabilities are required for companies engaged in genetic engineering experimentation and development? Is this type of insurance coverage even available and from which companies?


PACT (People Against Corporate Takeover,
AKA People Allied for Community Transformation)
POB 601, Northampton, MA 01061
(413) 586-0825

Massachusetts Earth First!
POB 35, Montague, MA 01350
(413) 367-9352

Note: This letter has been sent to the following public health agencies, university public health departments, government officials, newspapers, and advocacy organizations:

Massachusetts Department of Public Health
Howard Koh, Commissioner

Boston Public Health Commission
David Mulligan, Chairman

Massachusetts Public Health Association
Executive Director: Laurie Stillman

Harvard University School of Public Health
Barry R. Bloom, Dean

Boston University School of Public Health
Robert F. Meenan, Dean

Tufts University Graduate Programs in Public Health
Lauro F. Cavazos, Director

University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences
Stephen H. Gehlbach, Dean

Boston Mayor's Office
Thomas M. Menino, Mayor

Boston City Council Public Health Committee
Ron Cobb, Committee Liaison

Boston City Council Environment and Historic Preservation Committee
Juan Lopez, Committee Liaison

The Boston Globe

The Harvard Crimson

Boston University Daily Free Press

The Tufts Daily

Umass Daily Collegian

The MIT Tech

Boston Independent Media Center

Greater Boston Physicians for Social Responsibility

Union of Concerned Scientists
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