Animal experimentation figures do not show reality of animal testsDecember 12th, 2016
The Ministry for Primary Industries has today released figures on the numbers of animals used for research, testing and teaching in 2015. It was reported that 225,310 animals were used, over 4,300 per week; a drop from the 310,287 used in 2014. The animals experimented on included cows, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, fish and other species.
Although the numbers have decreased compared to 2014, animal advocacy group SAFE say this is expected because some studies take place across several years, and MPI requires the numbers of animals to be reported at the end. These figures do not indicate a trend, or result from any policy change.
“This drop is nothing more than a glitch due to how the figures are reported. Just last year a change to ensure animal experiments only took place when there was no alternative was put forward and rejected by the government. This is in contrast to the European Union where considering alternatives is a legal requirement1, offering some basic protection to animals used for scientific purposes.” says SAFE campaigns and policy officer Stephen Manson.
“The figures released only include the animals used in experiments that finished last year, it certainly doesn’t include those confined and being used for breeding, or those that don’t get used but are instead killed as they are not wanted.”
“We need investment in cutting edge methods, for example those that use human cells in 3D models, computer modelling, and other innovative scientific methods that advance science without animal suffering. Without this, it will continue to be business as usual; a drop one year, an increase the next. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of animals suffer when they don’t need to, particularly given the severe limitations of translating outcomes from animal research to human medical progress.”
Also revealed in the MPI report was that more animals suffered in the high and very high impact categories than the previous year, undergoing procedures that by MPI’s own admission can cause extreme pain and distress.
“What those over ten thousand animals went through before dying last year is reduced down to a page of short bullet points in a report. Our system needs to change; it needs to come out from behind closed doors and be completely transparent. Given that tax payers money is used to fund most research, the public deserve to know the full truth and failures of this inefficient and unethical use of funds.” Mr Manson added.
SAFE would like to see an overhaul of the regulatory system overseeing New Zealand’s animal experiments, a system that SAFE says is vulnerable to abuse and non-compliance, and an immediate stop of all experiments expected to fall into the high and very high impact categories.
- 1. Article (11) of the DIRECTIVE 2010/63/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes.
“[…] When choosing methods, the principles of replacement, reduction and refinement should be implemented through a strict hierarchy of the requirement to use alternative methods. Where no alternative method is recognised by the legislation of the Union, the numbers of animals used may be reduced by resorting to other methods and by implementing testing strategies, such as the use of in vitro and other methods that would reduce and refine the use of animals.”
- MPI press release including link to the report.