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Gene-Altered Vaccine Reportedly Tested Despite Lack of Approval

November 12, 1986|Associated Press

NEW YORK — The nation's oldest biomedical research institution participated last summer in field-testing a gene-altered rabies vaccine in Argentina without seeking approval from the Argentine or U.S. governments, it was reported Tuesday.

The Argentine government learned of the test in September and barred any further experimentation, the New York Times said.

U.S. officials and scientists said the test, in which 20 cows were inoculated in July with a gene-altered viral vaccine, raised questions about the effectiveness of a federal program to regulate the products of biotechnology research.

Overseas Testing Allowed

Regulations signed by President Reagan in June do not prohibit American companies or research laboratories from testing genetically engineered products in other countries.

In Buenos Aires, public health officials and scientists met Monday to consider whether to close the Pan American Health Organization, which conducted the test in Azul, Argentina, in collaboration with the Wistar Institute.

The Argentine Public Health Secretariat said the farm workers who handled the animals had never been told about the experiment.

The vaccine, according to Dr. Hilary Koprowski, director of the Philadelphia-based Wistar Institute, has been under development since 1983.

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