WASHINGTON -- Greg Simon, Vice President Al Gore's chiefdomestic policy adviser, last week gave the Institute forScience in Society's 1993 Food Biotechnology Conferenceanother indication of the administration's support for scienceand technology in general and biotechnology in particular.

Simon suggested that "distribution of ever more complex databases and models that form the backbone of biotechnologyresearch" would proceed at warp speed on the vice president'sinformation highway.

And he said that although Clinton was unable to turn Arkansasinto a hothouse for biotechnology when he was governor (seeBioWorld, May 24), the Clinton/Gore team would convert theentire country into a high-tech hothouse.

The "bridge to the future," Simon said, would rest on a firmfoundation of basic research. Research centers would nurturenew companies, and places such as the North Carolinabiotechnology center would serve as "a model of cooperationbetween industry and the public sector."

Nonetheless, environmentalists, who sometimes criticize thebiotechnology industry, are also among the administration'sconstituencies, and Simon left no doubt that they, too, wouldhave the administration's ear.

So it was not surprising that Simon urged the airing of bothsides of the debate over genetically engineered foods, so thatultimately the public would make the decisions.

"The public has a right to participate in decisions that affecttheir lives," said Simon. "And if the decision is one that is basedon scientific debate, both sides should be heard and bothshould be available for criticism by the public."

A one-sided discourse "was never in the interest of theindustry," said Simon, who added that the biotechnologyindustry seemed to agree. "I can't tell you how many peoplefrom industry have congratulated me for bringing them intothe open," he said.

-- David C. Holzman Washington Editor

(c) 1997 American Health Consultants. All rights reserved.