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Jim Sutton comments on animal research statistics

Jim Sutton comments on animal research statistics

15 July 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen: thank you for coming this morning. I'd like to introduce you to Wyn Hoadley, the chair of NAEAC, the National Animal ethics advisory council, and David Bayvel, the director of animal welfare at MAF.

Animal welfare comes under my responsibilities as Minister of Agriculture.

It's an important area for us all in New Zealand.

We're a trading nation, reliant on our exports to maintain our living standards. Animal welfare, along with other issues such as the environment, are touchstone issues for many of our consumers. If there are problems perceived with how our goods are produced, there can be resistance in our markets.

So, we have, as a nation and through successive governments, put an effort into our animal welfare standards.

The Animal Welfare Act 1999 was developed over 10 years, involved extensive consultation with the public and stakeholders, and serves as a model to other countries.

The Animal Ethics Committee model served New Zealand well for the 15 years before the act was introduced, and is a key component of our current regulatory system.

Animals are a significant part of our economy, of our lives, and it is important that they are treated well.

The use of animals in research in New Zealand is carefully regulated, and proposals need to get through several hoops before they go ahead. Internationally, we are an extremely minor player in the use of animals in research, testing and teaching. None of the research here involves Lethal Dose 50 testing ? where half of the animals used will be killed and the Draize Test where substances are put into rabbits eyes ? these would constitute very severe suffering.

Animal use is not done willy-nilly, with no regard for the animals. In New Zealand, the majority of projects using animals are for testing veterinary vaccines and for shellfish toxin testing.

Internationally, there is no non-animal test acceptable yet, so for vaccines to be accepted by our trading partners, they have to have been tested on animals.

And for public health reasons, shellfish toxin testing is necessary, and there is no non-animal test there. However, I understand good progress is being made in finding alternatives for shellfish biotoxin testing. New Zealand maintains important international links and continues to monitor developments in these areas. When an alternative is available, I have no doubt we will move to use it instead.

I now pass you over to Wyn Hoadley and David Bayvel who will tell you about the statistics being released today.

ENDS

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