A new EU code makes equitable partnerships in resource-poor settings a condition for funding
Though many consider it to be a thing of the past, unethical and exploitative research persists in the 21st century. It is particularly worrying when this exploitation aligns with the old fault lines of colonialism. Researchers from high-income countries travel to resource-poor settings to undertake research that would not be allowed at home. The European commission calls this type of research “ethics dumping”.
Ethics dumping can take many forms. Sometimes it is wilful exploitation: researchers avoid local ethics approval, undertake highly unethical experiments on non-human primates or refuse requests for compensation for harm incurred during a research study. Sometimes it may result from a lack of knowledge, for instance when researchers are unaware that community leaders need to be contacted before undertaking their research. In other cases it is simply unacceptable, insensitive behaviour, such as entering indigenous people’s homes during fieldwork to take pictures of breastfeeding mothers.