Letter: Safety in science

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The Independent Online
Sir: It was misleading of your Science Correspondent Tom Wilkie to include, in a front-page article (4 February) on a lapse of good laboratory practice in handling a genetically modified pathogen, a reference to recommendations for deregulation in a report by a House of Lords committee which I chaired on the regulation of the UK biotechnology industry.

Taking account of evidence from the Health and Safety Executive, among others, we explicitly recommended against deregulation where pathogens were concerned. Your leading article calls for strict regulation; our report called for regulation on scientific principles, rather than the irrational basis adopted hitherto; I hope Mr Wilkie is not suggesting that these two approaches are incompatible.

Yours faithfully,

WILL HOWIE

Select Committee on Science and Technology

Committee Office

House of Lords

London, SW1

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