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Chinese Biosafety Concerns

A bacterial outbreak at a Chinese University prompts the firing of administrators and highlights more systemic concerns.

By | September 14, 2011

FLICKR, QUACKTACULOUS

After veterinary students at Northeast Agricultural University in China were encouraged to dissect goats collected from a nearby farm without gloves or other safety precautions, 27 individuals contracted brucellosis, a bacterial infection usually obtained from handling farm animals that can have long lasting chronic symptoms.

In response, the university fired two administrators and offered over $9,000 in tuition waivers  and medical compensation to each student. However, only 17 of the 27 sickened students and one instructor agreed to the deal, with some students asking for five times the amount, reported ScienceInsider.

The incident highlights what some observers are calling China's uneven distribution of research dollars.  Only the elite universities have been given sufficient funding to polish their programs, leaving "second and third tier universities in an abysmal financial state," Gerry Postiglione from the University of Hong Kong wrote in an e-mail to ScienceInsider, which can result in cutting corners on cost and quality.

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