New Research Programme to assist animal ethics committees

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Media release on behalf of the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC)

NAEAC will embark on a new research programme this summer looking into the decision-making processes of animal ethics committees (AECs).

NAEAC has an advisory role to AECs and this initiative has been the focus of many NAEAC discussions throughout 2012, as highlighted in the 2012 NAEAC Annual Report released today.

“While no specific problems have been highlighted in the regular independent reviews of AECs, this is an opportunity for NAEAC to get an indication of how the committees are operating across the board,” says NAEAC Chairperson Dr Virginia Williams.

“These committees play a critical role in reducing unnecessary harm and suffering for animals used in science, and good decision-making is critical to the effective functioning of the regulatory system.

“NAEAC will use the research information gathered to determine how it can better tailor advice to AECs depending on each committee’s individual needs,” says Dr Williams.

The research will be conducted at the end of the year with results expected in the first quarter of 2014.

Throughout 2012 NAEAC was also kept busy with the proposed changes to the Animal Welfare Act 1999, the five-yearly reviews of codes of ethical conduct for eight research, testing and teaching (RTT) institutions, and running its fifth biennial workshop for AEC members.

Also released in the 2012 NAEAC Annual Report are the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) statistics detailing a 7.6 per cent decrease in the number of animals used in RTT compared to the previous year.

“While it is always good to see a drop in the number of animals used in RTT, the rolling three year average reflects that the three year reporting cycle was marginally up,” says Dr Williams.

“Records of the number of animals used in long-term projects are not reported annually, but every three years, or when the project is completed. The rolling three year average is a truer reflection of animal use in New Zealand.

“Given NAEAC’s focus on the research, testing and teaching, it’s certainly gratifying to see the lowest number of animals since 2006 reported in the ‘high impact’ or ‘very high impact’ categories.”

NAEAC’s annual report is available to read, here:
http://www.mpi.govt.nz/Default.aspx?TabId=126&id=2052 

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