IN January, 1908, the writer received a letter from President Roosevelt the essential part of which follows: “We have reached a point in the enforcement of the Pure Food and Drugs Act where it has become necessary that some scientific questions shall be settled. For this purpose, I have decided that we shall have a Referee Board, of five members, eminent medical men or physiological chemists. The Secretary of Agriculture will certify to this Board each question upon which he desires a final determination. Only those questions will be referred to the Board concerning which there exists a serious difference of opinion among eminent authorities. . , . The Board will have full authority to make all experiments necessary to reach a decision upon the questions submitted. A secretary of the Board and other clerical help will be provided, and the expenses incident to the investigations will be paid. “It is my desire to secure men of such high character and attainments that when the Referee Board speaks, it will be the ,final word on the subject so far as the United States is concerned. The questions now pressing for solution, which will probably be referred to the Board immediately, are, whether sulphur dioxide and benzoate of soda are harmful in foods. The Board will enjoy the greatest independence. The government will certify the questions and the Board will work out the answers in its own way, free from hampering influence of any kind. “Perhaps you know one or two men who are available. If so, I ask that you will write me fully about them; a].so that you will ascertain if their services may be secured. all, of course, in a confidential and tentative way. Prompt action is necessary in this matter, as the Board will be appointed within a very short time.” Having taken counsel with my colleague, Dr. William H. Welch, I wrote the President, January 17th, making some suggestions. On the 21st the President wrote me as follows: “Won't you accept the presidency or chairmanship of that committee of five? You are the very man I would most like to have on it. “If you will accept I will later get you to come over to see me so that I may have the chance of talking the matter over at some length with you.” On the 23rd I answered thus: “I have given careful consideration to your suggestion and am now prepared to say that if after a conference with you, the matter should present itself to me as it now does, and I should find it possible to give the necessary time to the work, I should ba strongly inclined to accept your offer. “If you will appoint a time for an interview, I shall be glad to call on you and talk the subject over.” On the 27th I went to 'the White House and had a very satisfactory talk with the President. He urged me to accept the chairmanship he had offered and added, “I want you to start this work and get it under way. If you should find it too great a burden you can, of course, withdraw later.” Everything he said showed clearly that the only object he had in view was to find out what the truth is as far as this might be possible. The talk between us was on the highest possible plane-refreshingly so. I accepted, and then at the President's suggestion I called on Secretary Wilsol, as everything pertaining to the Pure Food and Drugs Act falls within the jurisdiction of the Department of Agriculture. My talk with the Secretary was as saUsfactory as that with the President. It was clear that the Board was to be absolutely free from all external influence, that it was to work in its own way, to be, in fact, as free as the air. And let me say here, now that the Board has been in existence for over three years and has had a somewhat stormy time, that President Roosevelt and President Taft as well as Secretary Wilson have a llowed us to work without the slightest interference, Our relations have, naturally, been closest with the Secretary and, as chairman, my relations with the Secretary have been particularly close, and it is a great pleasure to me to testify to his uniform courtesy and to the fine attitude he has taken toward our work from the beginning of our service to the present. Nothing could have been fner. Now, about the appointment of the other members of the Board. The President turned over to me all the papers in his possession bearing on this subject, and then it appeared that he had written to four or five other university president: a letter similar to the one quoted at the beginning of this article and that these gentlemen had made some recommendations. The President said to me, “You need not be influenced by these suggestions, Select the men you think best and I will see that they are apPOinted.” After another conference with Dr. Welch I told the President that I should like to have appointed Dr. R H. Chittenden, director of the Sheffield Scientific School of Yale University, and professor of physiological chemistry therein; Dr. J. H. Long, professor of chemistry in the medical school of Northwestern University; Dr. C. A. Herter, professor of pharmacology and therapeutics in the College of Physicians and Surgeons (Columbia University), New York, and Dr. A. E. Taylor, professor of pathology in the University of California. The appointments were made by Secretary Wilson. It is superf, uous for me to praise these gentlemen or to say a word in defense of (hpir charaeter or Rcientific reputation. No one at all fmniliar with th. kind of worl, the Board is called upon to do would venture to call in question the fitness of these members. I may perhaps be permitted to say in regard to myself that I have not engaged directly in the experimental work upon which our conclusions have been based. I 'have acted as chairman and exercised a general supervision. Having studied medicine before I studied chemistry, and having always been interested in the problems of physiological chemistry and pharmacology, I think 1 am not entirely unfitted for the work I have been called upon to do for the government. I have repeatedly suggested to my colleagues on the Board that in my opinion it would be best for me to resign, but they have persuaded me against my will not to do so. While I have become much interested in the work and am convinced that it is of value to the country, I should be glad to be relieved of the burden. In this connection, let me testify to the disinterestedness of the services of my colleagues. They have given much time to the work-in some cases without interruption from one end of the year to the other-and the compensation ;has been much less than would have been paid these same m en for the same service. In all the discussions between the members there has never been any other desire expressed than to learn the truth and nothing but the truth. 1 do not see how the work could have been done more honestly. Last winter the Board lost one of its most valuable members by death. Dr. Herter, who had for some time been in poor, health, finally succumbed. To the last he kept up his interest and took part in our conferences. Weighing my words, I havp no hesitation in saying that I have never ]mown a man or high21 ideals. Scientific truth was almost an obsession with him. No one could have associated with him and worked with him without being the better for it. Another member of the Board has undermined his health by too close application to the work and, though he is on the road to recovery and we have good reason to believe that he will soon be himself again, his example is a warning to the other members. 'lhe vacancy caused by the deHth of Dr. Herter has been filled by the appointment of Dr. Theobald Smith, professor of comparative pathology in Harvard University, and director of the pathological laboratory of the Massachusetts State Board of Health. Dr. Smith is a member of the board of directors of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, New Yor1, of which Board Dr. Herter was also a director, It should be said that Dr. Smith was deliberately selected by the Referee Board as the best man to fill the vacancy, and that President Taft and Secretary Wilson at once agreed. Having thus shown how the Referee Board came into existence and under what conditions it has worked and is working, but little more is called for. The Secretary of Agriculture “certifies” the questions to the board upon whielh he wants an opinion, It is then the duty of the Board to answer the questions to the best of its knowledge and ability, making whatever studies may be necessary for this purpose. It has nothing whatever to do with the decisions of the Department of Agriculture and is in no wise responsible for these decisions. 'he department makes use as it sees fit of the reports furnished by the Board. Finally, a few words with regard to the treatment the Board has received. Attempts have been made to discredit it in the eyes of the public. Violent attacks have been made upon it, The members have been accused of a great variety of sins of omission and commission. The law has been invoked to break the force of some of the results obtained. In general there has been much gnashing of teeth. But the Board has noLbeen disturbed by these performances, and, as long as it may continue to labor, it cannot allow itself to be distmbed by such irrelevant matters. It is important for the world that such problems as are presented to the Board should be solved, and the only way they can be solved, is by patient scientific investigation carried on with the sole object of discovering the truth. Scientific quesHons cannot be answered by the erratic acts of hysterical persons nOlr by political maneuvering. Increase of Lung Capacity by Exercise ACCORDING to careful tests made in a gymnasium in Bonn, the capacity of the lungs was increased by regular exercise from 3,388 cubic centimeters 'Or 207 cubic inches to 3,803 cubic .centimeters or 232 cubic inches; an increase of 12,14 per cent. In Stuttgart the average increase was found to be from 3,833 cubic centimeters 01 233 cubic inches to 4,290 cubic centimeters or 262 cubic inches, being 11.49 per cent. Among the members of the Berliner Ruder Verein (Berlin Rowing Club) the increase fo1' the .heavy crew was from 5,600 cubic centimeters or 342 cubic inches to 5,775 cubic centimeters or 352 cubic inches (3.12 per cent); for the light crew from 4,700 cubic centimeters or 287 cubic inches to 4,875 cubic centimeters or 297 cubic inches, being at the rate 'f 3.72 per cent. The Queer Argan Tree AMONG the most remarkable trees of the world is the argan, which abounds in Southern Morocco, but is seldom seen elsewhere. A “forest” of argans has a curious scattered appearance, because the trees grow singly and far apart. They are very leafy, ,but seldom exceed twenty feet in height. The branches put out horizontally, and begin a yard above the ground. Sheep, cattle and camels feed on the leaves, and goats will stand on their hind legs to reach them, but horses and mules refuse to touch them. The wood is very hard, and extremely useful to the natives, who make charcoal from it. The fruit, resembling a large olive, is used to feed cattle and to manufacture a v al uabl e oil. It al s o furnishes the principal sustenance 'f many of the poorer native:.
This article was originally published with the title "The United States Referee Board"