The only answer to this being, research in genetic engineering should be properly regulated, monitored and if necessary with stringent international control.
A committee headed by Paulberg (1973-74) an eminent scientist held discussions with other interested persons and published a small bulletin outlining the risks involved in genetic engineering research.
In 1975 an International group of scientists who were very much concerned with genetic engineering research convened a meeting in California USA and considered the ethical and safety implications of genetic engineering research.
An outcome of this meeting was the formulation of a series of guidelines that sought to regulate and in some cases even prohibit research in recombinant DNA.
In the USA, the National Institute of Health (NIH) issued guidelines in the year 1976 for US scientists involved in genetic engineering research.
The guidelines required among other things that any research proposal involving recombinant DNA should be submitted to a special committee of NIH for approval. NIH also graded the laboratories into four levels (PI to P4) where genetic engineering research of different levels were recommended.
For instance experiments involving DNA from primates and animal viruses involving harmful genes could be carried out only in extra secure P4 laboratories.
In 1982 an advisory panel of NIH – the recombinant DNA advisory committee (RAC) published revised guidelines.
According to these new regulations recombinant DNA experiments were graded into 5 classes and of these it is essential that three levels of research must obtain NIH approval even before initiation.
These include researches involving drug resistance of microorganisms, toxin synthesizing genes and operations involving release of genetically engineered organisms into environment (as those used for pest control).
On the 26th January 1982 a meeting was held at the parliamentary assembly of the council of Europe in Strasburg and recommended certain guidelines aimed at protecting the individual from the inheritant dangers of genetic manipulation.
Three areas were mentioned in particular – genome map of human cells, gene therapy of somatic cells and gene therapy of germ cells. The report of the council concluded that inspite of the possible advantages of genetic engineering research, man made decisions should not substitute the free play of nature and everyone’s right not to be genetically manipulated should be affirmed (Ignacimuthu, 1995).
Outside USA, the regulations on genetic engineering research are not actually as stringent as they ought to be.
France and Germany are considering whether to restrict research in genetic engineering because of the ethical questions involved. Recombinant DNA guidelines of France are ambiguous about the deliberate release of genetically altered organisms.
In Germany however release into environment of genetically altered organisms are strictly prohibited. Many social activist groups are opposing gene therapy and such other genetic engineering practices in terms of ethical and moral parameters.