Professor Dean Harris, Clinical Associate Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health, spoke on bioethics in research at the North Carolina Journal of International Law & Commercial Regulation Symposium on Friday, February 1, 2013. Professor Harris explored the issue of bioethics in research through a case study from China involving golden rice, a genetically modified grain.
The research project was conducted by researchers at Tufts University who sought out Chinese children to periodically consume a small amount of the genetically modified rice to test the nutritional results of the rice. The issue of informed consent was at the heart of the research study. Debate continues as to whether the researchers obtained informed consent when the parents of the children signed the consent form, as it is unclear if they completely understood the implications of the form they were signing because of translation difficulties. Professor Harris ended his presentation asking the question if researchers from the United States should be required to do more to protect participants of research studies such as the children involved in the golden rice study. These issues were also explored in different contexts in Protecting a Vulnerable Population with Little Regulatory Framework, an article appearing in the Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy.