Will Hong Kong ever have an ethical research system?

04 Jan 2020

James, A.

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Research involving animals in Hong Kong is regulated by the Animals (Control of Experiments) Ordinance (Cap 340), and is enforced by the Department of Health (DoH). The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) enforces the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Ordinance (Cap 169). Cap 340 licences researchers to conduct experiments on vertebrate animals. Researchers may be prosecuted under Cap 169 if they do not adhere to the conditions of their DoH licence. To date there have been no prosecutions. Cap 340 also mandates that licensees accurately record the number of animals used in experiments and provide annual returns of the number of animals used in their licenced experiments.

Cap 340 does not provide for any ethical oversight or harm-benefit assessment. Hong Kong universities have animal ethics committees but standards of ethical review among the various committees are highly variable in their effectiveness. Since 1999, the DoH has become incrementally...