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20% increase in animal experimentation alarming

11 September 2007

20 percent increase in animal experimentation alarming

New Zealanders remain in the dark as to why experiments were conducted on 318,489 animals last year, a sharp rise on previous years, the Green Party says.

"It is appalling that the total number of animals used in research, testing and teaching has risen by 21 percent in the last year according to the numbers released today in the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) annual report," Green Party Animal Welfare Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

Last year, this included 59,404 birds, 41,748 cattle, 682 dogs and 757 cats. More than 40,000 animals (41,441) suffered experimentation involving moderate, severe, or very severe suffering.

"The latest report from NAEAC is little more than spin, and sheds no light on why government-funded institutions continue to experiment on animals despite the fact that alternatives such as in-vitro (test tube) testing exists. Their spin alleges that NAEAC is focused on reducing the number of animals tortured - but the numbers clearly do not bear this out.

The report also claims that New Zealand cannot replace animal based tests until it has agreement from unspecified "international regulatory agencies". "This is outrageous, and implies New Zealand has ceded its ability to make far-reaching decisions on animal welfare to unknown overseas powers," Ms Kedgley says.

"Both the scientific community and the Government must act to reduce these numbers immediately. By far the majority of the animal experimentation being done in this country is happening in government -funded institutes and departments around the country. Government should take a lead in shifting away from animal experimentation towards non-animal studies, and there should be strict laws in placing specifying that experiments must only take place if there is no alternative method - such as exists in the European Community.

"A bright light needs to be shone into the murky and secretive world of animal testing. We urgently need transparency and more comprehensive publicly available reporting on why tax payer funded institutions are experimenting on animals. This report includes tables of statistics but provides no public accountability or justification for the experiments. 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.

"Reports recently that a Hawke's Bay company has become one the biggest suppliers of companion animals for experimentation in the Southern Hemisphere highlights a worrying trend," Ms Kedgley says.


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