Advanced Search | Help
13 September 1996
Before any animal can be used in medical and scientific research or teaching, an animal ethics committee must be assured that the use of the animal is necessary, any discomfort to the animal is avoided, and that the minimum number of animals are used.
"While considerable strides have been made to reduce and replace the use of live animals, some continued use is inevitable in the foreseeable future. The threats to human health may, unfortunately, delay further reductions in the number of animals used," says Keith Robinson, chairman of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, which has just released its annual report.
The National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) was established in 1984. Members are appointed in a personal capacity and are nominated by national bodies including the Australian and New Zealand Federation of Animal Societies, NZ Local Government Association, Landcare Research, the NZ Veterinary Association, NZ School Board Of Trustees Association, The Health Research Council, and the Royal Society of New Zealand.
Mr Robinson paid tribute to the work of the country's approximately 46 institutional animal ethics committees, which administer Codes of Ethical Conduct for institutions to work by. A committee usually comprises members of the institution, together with independent members of the veterinary profession, animal welfare groups and the general public.
While NAEAC encourages organisations to pay the expenses of independent members, many provide their time free. "Without their involvement the system would lose the credibility established over the past 10 years. The committees are the mainstay of the system," Mr Robinson said.
The Animals Protection (Codes of Ethical Conduct) Regulations 1987 require 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.
In the future, NAEAC will look into the use of animals in science fairs. Previously, there had been concern about the use of animals in schools, but just completed NAEAC research showed that the use of animals in a way which would concern NAEAC was minimal. The committee, furthermore, does not want to discourage schools from using animals altogether, as it believes it is important for children to become accustomed to, and learn to treat animals correctly.
For further information and a copy of the report contact:
Ms J Tacon, Secretary of NAEAC, PO Box 2526, Wellington, or a direct line: (04) 474 4296 or fax: (04) 474 4133