2007 National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report Released

15 July 2008

The National Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report was released today. A significant feature of NAEAC’s work in 2007 was the review of a number of the codes of ethical conduct that govern the use of animals in research, testing and teaching.

Nine codes were recommended for renewal and one new code was approved. An important contribution to this process is the statutory review of each code-holder carried out by an independent reviewer.

All research, testing or teaching involving live animals in New Zealand must be approved by an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC). An AEC must include at least three independent members: an independent veterinarian, a person nominated by an approved animal welfare organisation, and a person nominated by a local authority.

NAEAC promotes the concepts of humane science and continues to pursue improvements through its promotion of the ‘Three Rs, which encourage:

  • replacement of live and conscious animals in experiments with unconscious or non-living alternatives at every opportunity;
  • reduction in numbers to the minimum; and
  • refinement of experimental techniques so as to minimise or eliminate any suffering involved.

The Annual Report publishes the notification of the numbers of animals used in research, testing and teaching. The overall number of animals manipulated in 2007 has decreased from the previous year by 22.6% to 246,667. Year on year fluctuations can in large part be attributed to the three year reporting cycle for long term projects. A rolling average shows little variation from the previous three years.

The figures show that nearly 80 percent of animals used were classified as experiencing ‘no’ or ‘little’ suffering. Just over eight per cent were in the ‘severe’ or ‘very severe’ grading. The majority of these animals – nearly all rodents – were used for testing the safety and efficacy of animal health products to meet regulatory requirements.

Only 17.2% of the total animals manipulated were used for testing. The principal purposes of manipulation in 2007 were: veterinary research, which almost exclusively used farm animals and rodents; basic biological research; and medical research for which rodents made up over 90% of animals manipulated.

Chairperson, John Martin, said that in all projects all possible steps, including a high level of veterinary care, and pain relief, are taken to prevent pain and suffering.

All those who use animals in research, testing and teaching (RTT) follow the philosophy of the Three Rs and comply with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, which requires that the benefits derived from the use of animals in RTT are not outweighed by the likely harm to animals.

“It is important to remember that the treatment and cure for many diseases rely on animal research. And research is not just about developing new drugs for humans – many of the drugs tested on animals are being developed for animals,” Mr Martin said.

This is the eighth Annual Report since the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) became a statutory committee in 2000. A copy of the report is available at
www.biosecurity.govt.nz/files/regs/animal-welfare/pubs/naeac/naeac-ar-07.pdf [480K PDF]

ENDS

Issued by:

Helen Keyes, Senior Communications Adviser | Phone: 0-4-894 0161 or 029-894 0161 | Email: helen.keyes@maf.govt.nz

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