Monday, March 20, 2017

San people of Africa draft code of ethics for researchers; Science, March 17, 2017

Linda Nordling, Science; 

San people of Africa draft code of ethics for researchers


"Earlier this month the group unveiled a code of ethics for researchers wishing to study their culture, genes, or heritage.
The code, published here on 3 March, asks researchers to treat the San respectfully and refrain from publishing information that could be viewed as insulting. Because such sensitivities may not be clear to researchers, the code asks that scientists let communities read and comment on findings before they are published. It also asks that researchers keep their promises and give something back to the community in return for its cooperation...
The code does not place unrealistic demands on scientists, says Himla Soodyall, director of the Human Genomic Diversity and Disease Research Unit at South Africa’s University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. But others point out that the code focuses on past transgressions, and doesn’t refer to recent efforts to respect and involve communities, such as guidelines for genomics work on vulnerable populations prepared in 2014 by the Human Heredity and Health in Africa program. As a result, the code may present an overly negative view of researchers and discourage communities from participating in studies, says Charles Rotimi, founding director of the National Institutes of Health Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health in Bethesda, Maryland."

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