The Kunming Institute of Zoology in south-western China is just one of several primate research facilities that are attracting Western researchers to the country. With 1,400 monkeys including 300 in isolation, it held scientists in awe at a recent symposium on biomedical research using primates as research models.
David Cyranoski describes the current trend among researchers using primate models to shift their studies to China, either by taking up positions there, or through collaborations. Low costs, fewer regulations, and the absence of animal rights groups make the move an attractive prospect.
But some worry that these factors could cause problems in the future. Activists say the same ethical concerns that have arisen in Western primate facilities are also valid in China, where there are fewer institutional ethics review boards. Weizhi Ji, director of the Kunming Institute, and his collaborators, however, say ethical standards at the Kunming institute match those in Europe and the United States.
Reference: Nature 432, 3 (2004)