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UCT adopts conduct code to curb ‘ethics dumping’

The University of Cape Town has become the first university in the world to adopt a code of conduct designed to prevent researchers from exporting unethical practices to places or populations with lax rules or poor oversight.

The Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings was drawn up by a European Union-funded project to draw attention to, and counteract, the practice of ‘ethics dumping’. This describes the practice of exporting to low-resource or poorly regulated settings research that may not be allowed in high-resource, well-regulated settings.

Ethics dumping would cover, for example, European scientists going to developing countries to conduct research on animals that would not be allowed in their home country, or going abroad to use gene-editing technologies on human embryos in ways not condoned by their own institutions or national ethics bodies.

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