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50 & 100 Years Ago

50 Years Ago

The U.S. National Academy of Sciences at its autumn meeting in Washington adopted the following resolution respecting recent events in Hungary: “[We]... unite in expressing [our] profound admiration and sympathy to fellow scientists in Hungary and to all the men and women of that nation who have demonstrated their love of liberty with sacrificial devotion during the tragic events of the past few weeks. American scientists look forward with hope to a time when their Hungarian colleagues, freed from external oppression, will be able to join fully in the international exchange of information, discussion and encouragement which is essential to the progress of science”.

From Nature 15 December 1956.

100 Years Ago

There is much knowledge enshrined in Parliamentary Blue-books, and doubtless some wisdom. Very often it remains enshrined in them. A better fate, however, has awaited the report of the Departmental Committee appointed by the President of the Local Government Board in 1899 “to inquire into the use of preservatives and colouring-matters in foodstuffs.”... The policy of our laws has been to allow food-producers a free hand, subject to the restriction that any preservative added shall not render the food injurious to health. But has this laissez faire attitude been a wise one? True, it leaves the food manufacturer free to experiment—which is, so far, so good. But it gives him the consumer's living body as corpus vile—which is not so good... Let a responsible body be appointed, competent to examine the newer substances; let it hear what is to be said on either side, and let it make whatever experiments are necessary and practicable to test the evidence. And let no preservative or colouring-matter whatever be added to foodstuffs until it has been at least provisionally approved by this responsible authority.

From Nature 13 December 1906.

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50 & 100 Years Ago. Nature 444, 825 (2006).

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