Medicine: Genetic Moratorium

Worried that a wild-eyed professor might create a new killer germ, the town fathers of a New England community anxiously convene to deal with the possible threat.

Sound like the script of a third-rate science-fiction thriller? It is reality in Cambridge, Mass., where the city council moved last week to prevent Harvard University and M.I.T. from engaging in genetic research that could create new —and possibly dangerous—life forms.

By a 5-to-4 vote the council demanded a three-month moratorium on the disputed research, which is already under way at M.I.T. The two schools are not legally bound to comply, and in any event,...

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