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No more animal secrets - or no more public funding

No more animal secrets - or no more public funding!

Green MP Sue Kedgley today called for taxpayer funding for animal experimentation to be cut off from public institutions that refuse to publicly account for their experiments on live animals, on the eve of the expected release of animal use statistics by the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee.

Ms Kedgley said that the four institutions - AgResearch, Lincoln University, Forest Research Institute (FRI) and Crown Research Institute Palmerston North (CRI) - are hiding behind the veil of 'commercial sensitivity' and refusing to release all of their animal use data.

"It is frankly outrageous that these institutions are using public money to experiment on animals and then refusing to account to the public about what they are doing with our money," said Ms Kedgley, the Green spokesperson for Animal Welfare.

"If they're not prepared to be publicly accountable, they shouldn't receive public funding for experiments.

Ms Kedgley said all four institutes had stonewalled attempts to uncover the information about the extent and nature of their experiments on live animals.

Five months after lodging an Official Information request to the Minister of Agriculture, AgResearch (the institution that undertakes the most experiments on animals) was still refusing to release information such as the levels of suffering or how many animals had died during its experiments.

"After appealing to the Ombudsman to prise information from AgResearch, Lincoln University, FRI and CRI and 20 other institutions, I have still not received any data. The refusal of these institutions to release their animal use data to the public shows just how little public accountability there is," said Ms Kedgley.

"These institutions are hiding behind 'commercial sensitivity' as an excuse not to release the data. This is a red herring. There's nothing commercially sensitive about how much suffering is involved in animal experiments and we've never asked for individuals involved to be named.

"Unless these publicly-funded institutions start behaving responsibly and publicly disclose the animal experiments data, their public funding should be withdrawn immediately.

"The public has a right to know what is happening in our publicly-funded research institutions and why AgResearch experimented on 56,000 animals last year," she said.

Ms Kedgley said vivisection and the use of animals for scientific experiments is a highly controversial activity of great concern to many New Zealanders. "Sadly, tomorrow's release of animal use statistics would not shed any light on the reasons why hundreds of thousands of live animals are experimented on each year."

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