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Animal research statistics released

Animal research statistics released

An increase in the number of animals used in research, testing and teaching was reported for 2003 in the Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report released today.

During 2003, 320911 animals were manipulated representing an increase of 21.7% from 2002. David Bayvel, Director Animal Welfare with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) attributes the increase to the completion of the three year reporting cycle required for longer term projects.

“Statistics are not collected annually for long-term projects but every third year and also on their completion. Another factor to be considered is the increase in research work undertaken by universities and the use of animals for teaching purposes, usually low impact animal husbandry/veterinary nursing or similar training,” he said.

Dr Bayvel said the biggest percentage increases were in the use of marine mammals, possums, amphibia and dogs; although in all cases the total numbers were low.

Research involving these species covered fur seal pup survival, monitoring the health status, breeding and foraging behavior of sea lions, possum control for preventing TB transmission to livestock and reducing the adverse environmental impact of this pest, expansion of training courses in canine behaviour and canine vaccination. Against the general trend there was a reduction in the use of hamsters, reptiles, birds and pigs for research, testing and teaching.

All research, testing or teaching involving live animals in New Zealand must be carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act 1999 and must be approved by an Animal Ethics Committee which includes three independent members.

In contrast to the increase in the total number of animals used, there was a decrease in the percentage of animals used in the high suffering category. This percentage is slightly lower than the last two years and significantly lower than the previous two years.

During 2003 there was a steady drop in the number of animal ethics committees as a number of organisations opted to share codes of ethical conduct and animal ethics committees.

This is a practical arrangement which enables partner organisations to share costs and resources. MAF must be notified of any shared arrangement before any work using animals can take place.

NAEAC is an independent ministerial advisory committee established to advise the Minister of Agriculture on issues relating to the use of animals in research, testing and teaching.

For hard copies of the report contact the Animal Welfare Group on 04 474 4129

A copy of the NAEAC Annual Report is available at: http://www.maf.govt.nz/biosecurity/naeac-ar-03.pdf

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