2008 National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report Released

30 July 2009

Notification of the numbers of animals used in research, testing and teaching was released today in the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report.

During 2008 the total number of animals reported as 'manipulated' increased from the previous year to 341,520. Fluctuations in the aggregate numbers can largely be attributed to a three year reporting cycle for long term projects. Using a three year rolling average, the 2008 figure is similar to the early 2000s.

The principal purposes of manipulation in 2008 were: veterinary research, animal husbandry and basic biological research. The animals most commonly used were mice, sheep - investigating genetic traits by taking blood samples; cattle - for artificial insemination training; and fish - netted, counted for population surveys, and released.

Almost all the animals used were classified as experiencing "no" or "little" impact.. Six percent - nearly all rodents - experienced a "high" or "very high" impact. The majority of the animals in this category were used to ensure the efficacy and safety of animal health products. Other uses were for public health testing, including for algal bloom induced marine biotoxins.

Chairperson, John Martin, said that in NAEAC's experience, in all projects associated with moderate, high or very high impact experiences all possible steps are taken to reduce or improve the effect on animals. Steps include a high level of veterinary care, pre- and post-operative pain relief and removal from the study or euthanasia once the research objective is achieved.

"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."

"Every project that uses animals for approved purposes must demonstrate that the benefits - for example, to the maintenance of human health or the production and productivity of animals - must not be outweighed by the likely harm to animals".

All research, testing or teaching involving live animals in New Zealand must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of Part 6 of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and must be approved by an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC).

AECs are an important part of the approval process established by the Act to ensure that the use of animals in research, testing and teaching is carried out in accordance with the Act and the principles of the 'Three Rs'.

An AEC must include at least three independent members: a veterinarian, a person nominated by an approved animal welfare organisation, and a person nominated by a local authority. There is also a statutory requirement for both AECs and code-holders to be independently reviewed.

NAEAC has continued to promote the concepts of humane science and to pursue improvements by encouraging alternative non-animal testing when possible. This is supported by NAEAC's promotion of the 'Three Rs', which encourage:

  • replacement of live and conscious (sentient) animals in experiments with unconscious (non-sentient) 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.

This is the ninth Annual Report since the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) became a statutory committee in 2000. A copy of the report is available at http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/regs/animal-welfare/naeac/annual-reports or by request from animalwelfare@maf.govt.nz.

Issued by:

Lisa Gibbison, Communications Adviser
Phone: 04 894 0432 or 029 894 0432, Email: lisa.gibbison@maf.govt.nz

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