Giving Compass' Take:

• The Atlantic reports on new neuroscience breakthroughs in China that rely on genetically engineering monkeys, which brings up many ethical dilemmas.

• Would the benefits outweigh the crossing of humane lines? Chinese scientists are studying the effects of many widespread human disorders (including severe autism) via this research, but there seems to be little oversight.

• This comes at a critical time. Here's why science is trying to reset its relationship with the public.

American scientists worry that the United States is falling behind China on primate research. “I have two big concerns,” says Michael Platt, a brain scientist at the University of Pennsylvania who studies primates. “The United States is not investing heavily in these [primate] models. Therefore we won’t have the access that scientists have in China.” The second, he says, is that “we might lose the talent base and expertise for actually doing primate neuroscience.”

China, meanwhile, is establishing itself as an international hub of primate research. While the country does have a burgeoning animal-rights movement, says Peter Li, a China policy specialist with Humane Society International, activists have largely focused on the welfare of pets. Eating dogs has become taboo, and medical experiments on dogs have prompted outrage, but research on monkeys has not faced the same scrutiny.

In the 1990s and 2000s, a number of monkey facilities like the one I visited opened to breed animals for export, mostly to biomedical research projects in the West. This means that China not only has a lot of monkeys but also a lot of experts in monkey reproduction, who can do the delicate experiments required to tinker with monkey genomes ...

In the past few years, China has seen a miniature explosion of genetic engineering in monkeys. In Kunming, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, scientists have created monkeys engineered to show signs of Parkinson’s, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, autism, and more.

Read more about understanding neuroscience through monkey brains by Sarah Zhang at The Atlantic.