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Mack v. Califano

Citation: 8 ELR 20347
No. No. 77-916, 447 F. Supp. 668/11 ERC 1540/(D.D.C., 02/23/1978)

The court denies plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent defendants from carrying out experimental research involving recombinant DNA in certain strains of bacteria. Under a prior stipulation, proceedings were stayed until a final environmental impact statement (EIS) was prepared, and the EIS was completed on November 28, 1977. Plaintiff alleged that the experiments threaten the environment through accidental release of mutant bacteria, that the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act have not been fully met, and that this type of research has been classified as "prohibited" by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. Defendants argued that the EIS was adequate and that the experiments are consistent with National Institutes of Health guidelines which reflect the cautious manner in which the scientific community has considered the recombinant DNA technology. Furthermore, defendants argued that plaintiff misunderstands the nature of the experimental material and procedures. The court finds that the EIS represents a "hard look" by the agency at the possible environmental consequences of the experiment, as required by Kleppe v. Sierra Club, 6 ELR 20532. The record shows that the potential risks have been carefully considered and the necessary precautions have been taken to protect the environment. Furthermore, important scientific information would be delayed if a preliminary injunction were granted.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Ferdinand J. Mack
17 W. Jefferson St., Rockville MD 20850
(301) 279-2230

Counsel for Defendants
David Schlee, Ass't U.S. Attorney
Room 3600-E, U.S. Courthouse, 3d & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington DC 20001
(202) 426-7511