Latest statistics on the use of animals released

5 October 2001

The year 2000 saw an increase in the number of animals used in research, testing and teaching.

The increase can be linked to research into new and improved veterinary vaccines to protect the health and welfare of both farm and domestic animals, as well as testing to protect public health and testing to meet regulatory requirements.

These figures have been released in the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report, out today.

The report shows a small number of transgenic animals were used in research (1.4%), no animals were used in cosmetic testing, LD50 toxicity testing or Draize eye irritancy testing and no primates were used. Bu there was a significant increase in the number of animals used overall.

David Bayvel, Director of Animal Welfare at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and NAEAC member says that in any work associated with pain and suffering, all possible steps are taken to minimise the effect. This includes a high level of veterinary and specialist technician care, post-operative pain relief and removal from the study, or euthanasia, as soon as the research objective is achieved.

"The statistics contain much valuable information and NAEAC and MAF will continue to promote efforts to replace, reduce and refine, where possible, the use of animals in research, testing or teaching," said Dr Bayvel.

He said New Zealand examples of successful implementation of the principles of replacement, reduction and refinement include:

  • a dramatic reduction in the use of mice in cancer research
  • the development of tissue culture veterinary vaccines
  • the development of non-animal tests for quality control of veterinary vaccines, and
  • the development of computer teaching models for veterinary students.

The year 2000 figures represent the first statistics to be collected under the Animal Welfare (Records and Statistics) Regulations 1999.

"NAEAC was instrumental in developing the reporting format, and severity scale, that has ensured that the information collected since 1998 is both freely available and more meaningful. Although the NZ system is recognised as one of the most comprehensive in the world, efforts will continue to pursue refinements and seek improvements," said Dr Bayvel

All research, testing or teaching involving live animals in New Zealand must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 1999.

The Act requires that all such animal use be justified in terms of benefit to society and approved by institutional Animal Ethics Committees (AECs). These committees are also required to include three independent external members, to ensure community input to the decision making process.

For further information contact:

Dr David Bayvel, Director Animal Welfare, MAF Biosecurity Authority

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