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Explanation sought for animal experiments

18 August 2005

Explanation sought for publicly-funded animal experiments

The Minister of Agriculture must explain to New Zealanders why scientists secretly experimented on 246,000 animals last year, including genetically engineering 7922 animals, Green Party Animal Welfare Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"In particular we need an explanation as to why scientists considered it necessary to subject more than 12,000 animals to severe or very severe suffering," she says.

Fifty-nine percent of the experiments were carried out in publicly funded institutions such as Crown Research Institutes, government departments and universities.

"Yet no explanation was offered in the just-released annual National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee report as to why these experiments took place, or what they involved.

"We demand accountability in every other activity of government, why isn't there any when it comes to the controversial area of animal experimentation?

"Surely as taxpayers we are entitled to some explanation as to why these experiments were conducted, especially why more than 12,000 animals were subjected to severe suffering," Ms Kedgley says.

"The only other taxpayer-funded activity that is so shrouded in secrecy, and for which there is no system of public accountability, is the SIS. The annual report is nothing more than PR spin designed to conceal the real truth about what happens to live animals when they are used for scientific experiments.

"It gives us a couple of tables of statistics but provides no public accountability or justification for the experiments, or the amount of suffering involved. It is time the excessive secrecy surrounding animal experiments was lifted, and the public informed about what experiments are being carried out on the public purse." Even as an MP Ms Kedgley has continued to be denied information by publicly funded organisations that experiment on animals.

"I have requested information under the Official Information Act and both publicly-funded organisations and private companies have refused to provide it. Two years ago officials promised that they would introduce some openness and accountability into the secret world of animal research.

They promised to publish summaries of all research projects involving animal experiments on their website, but none of their promises have been kept and we are all as much in the dark as ever."

ENDS

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