Decrease in the use of animals in research

16 November 2000

The number of animals used in research in New Zealand decreased considerably in 1999 according to the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee's (NAEAC) Annual Report just released.

The figures went from 310,737 in 1998 to 249,272 in 1999.

This can be accounted for by a marked decrease in the total number of fish used by some 68,000. However, while use of several animal species showed a significant decrease in usage, others showed an increase.

The use of amphibians, birds, goats, horses, mice, sheep, and 'miscellaneous species' all reported a significant increase over 1998 figures, while use of cattle, deer, dogs, fish, hamsters, marine mammals and possums all decreased significantly.

The animals most frequently used in 1999 were mice, sheep, cattle and birds. Fish, the most commonly used animals in 1998, ranked fifth in 1999. This was the first time birds have featured in the most commonly used animal list.

Of the 32,000 birds used in 1999, 13 percent were chickens, 1 percent were pigeons and the remainder fell into the 'other birds' category. Approximately 92 percent of other birds were used for conservation research purposes.

There was little difference in the number of animals used between the top three user groups. These were, in order, commercial operators (29.4 percent), Crown Research Institutes (28.7 percent) and universities (27.3 percent). As expected schools used the fewest animals, accounting for less than 0.02 percent of the total.

Only 5 percent of animals used in research reported in 1999 had been used before.

NAEAC was formed in 1984 to provide independent, high quality advice to the Minister of Agriculture on policy and practices relating to the use of animals in research, teaching and testing.

Other tasks undertaken by NAEAC during 1999 included a major survey on training for those involved in animal research, the adoption of a policy on the issue of over-breeding of laboratory animals as well as continuing to address the review of codes of ethical conduct.

1999 was the last year that the committee operated under the 1960 Animals Protection Act. In future annual reports will be prepared under the new Animal Welfare Act, which came into force on 1 January 2000.

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 requires that any institution, organisation or individual who uses live animals for the purpose of research, testing and teaching, must have an approved Code of Ethical Conduct relating to the welfare and humane treatment of the animals involved.

NAEAC's new Chairperson, Wyn Hoadley says the new Act has significant implications for animal ethics committees and those who use animals in research, testing and teaching and the production of biological agents.

She says the review of the codes of ethical conduct and recommendations concerning the setting of standards and policies for such codes will be one of the key priorities of the committee under the new Act.

During 1999 17 Gazette notices were published as a result of NAEAC's recommendations to the Minister. The 1999 NAEAC Annual Report is out now.

 For further information contact:

Wyn Hoadley, NAEAC Chairperson, telephone 025-856-105
Linda Carsons, Senior Policy Adviser Animal Welfare, for specific inquiries relating to animal use statistics, telephone 04-470-2746 or fax N/A88

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

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