Bethesda , Md--NIH director Harold Varmus has announced plants
to disband the Recombinant DNA Advisory Committee (RAC). The committee
was formed in 1975 as a panel of 24 scientists, ethicists, and
others at NIH dedicated to holding those in the field of biogenetics
accountable to the public.
The RAC created the first safety guidelines for genetically engineering
microbes, instituted a formal review system for studies involving
insertion of new genes into humans, and, in 1990, gave the first
approval of a human gene therapy experiment. RAC approval was
required before the FDA would consider any gene therapy proposal.
Now, Dr. Varmus believes the RAC is no longer necessary, as the
FDA can handle all new proposals with the help of ad hoc committees
convened as needed.