Draft on human research approved

PERMANENT ANONYMITY:Researchers would have to gain permission from individuals or close relatives before using specimens and they must never identify providers

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Fri, Jun 04, 2010 - Page 3

The Cabinet yesterday approved a draft bill that set out regulations on research on human subjects, requiring prior written approval from participants in research programs that involve human blood, organs, tissues, cells, body fluids and other specimens.

If the bill is passed in the legislature, most of the current guidelines on the subject would be elevated to legal status, whereby individuals or institutions violating the articles would be fined between NT$50,000 and NT$1 million (US$31,000).

The move was made ­following an incident in 2007, in which Mackay Hospital agreed to destroy saliva specimens collected from 29 Kavalan Aborigines after the tribe objected to a research project that intended to study the origins of the tribe.

Research covered in the bill includes human subject studies on bio-behavior, physiology and psychology, as well as studies of specimens collected from humans, including embryos and corpses.

The bill stipulates that those in charge of research projects must clarify to participants or their close relatives the details of the programs, including their research purpose, research methods, privacy protection mechanisms, remedy measures against possible risks, revenue from the research and the methods for allocating revenues, among others.

The regulation was also in line with the Aboriginal Basic Act (原住民基本法).

Under the draft bill, participants were restricted to people who have all their mental faculties. Exceptions could be made for research projects on rare diseases or on projects deemed beneficial to specific groups of people. Researchers would not be allowed to use prisoners as objects of study except in cases where prisoners were a necessary component of the research programs.

The bill stipulates that researchers were required to codify data or specimens or adopt other approaches to make sure that information identifying providers is permanently unavailable.

The Cabinet yesterday also approved a proposal from the Ministry of Economic Affairs that would see the government inject NT$1.1 billion over four years starting this year to promote Taiwanese cuisine on the international stage.

The government set the goal of creating an additional 10,000 jobs in the catering industry, bringing the number of overseas branches of Taiwanese catering businesses to 3,500 from the current 900, helping more than 50 local catering businesses to build themselves into international brands by 2013, and driving the private sector to invest more than NT$2 billion in the industry.

To push for the globalization of Taiwanese food, the ministry said it will set up a think tank to promote Taiwanese delicacies through experience-sharing among food stores and food service establishments and will designate a street in Taipei dedicated to local fine food that will hold international food fairs to attract tourists from Taiwan and overseas.

It also plans to organize training courses for chefs and send them to international culinary competitions.

Additional reporting by CNA