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4 November, 1997
The National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) is warning farmers of their legal obligations under the Animals Protection Act 1960 when generating rabbit calicivirus disease (RCD) to spread around their properties.
NAEAC chairman Keith Robinson said anyone who uses live animals for experimental purposes is required by law to have an approved code of ethical conduct in
existence before such work is carried out.
"Some farmers who spread RCD virus initially are reported to have generated it by infecting rabbits in a cage with a virus mixture. After they died, the carcasses were removed and other rabbits were put in the cage. Others were apparently kept alive in cages, injected with the virus, and then released.
"These actions were all manipulations of live animals dependent on humans for their care and sustenance, as defined in the Act", Mr Robinson said. "Since the farmers had no approved code of ethical conduct, their actions amount to criminal offences." (See below)
Mr Robinson said farmers or anyone else who might be considering generating the virus in this way should realise that it would be an offence, and that action could be taken against them.
However, Mr Robinson said there was nothing in the Animals Protection Act to prevent farmers collecting dead rabbits from the field and formulating viral material from their carcasses.
Media inquiries to:
Keith Robinson, Chairman, National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, (04) 495 3457