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Veil of Secrecy on Live Animal Experiments Lifted

Lifting the Veil of Secrecy on Live Animal Experiments

The first ever comprehensive report into vivisection in New Zealand has been released. The Report, 'Lifting the Veil of Secrecy' was produced by the National Anti Vivisection Campaign (NAVC), Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE), Animal Rights Legal Advocacy Network (ARLAN) and the Animal Rights Alliance (ARA). The Green Party also supported the report launch.

'Lifting the Veil of Secrecy' was launched today amidst an unprecedented show of unity and strength in the movement against vivisection. The following people spoke at the report¹s launch at the Centra Hotel in Christchurch, expressing their deep concern at animal experiments in New Zealand.

Dr Ray Greek, President of Americans For Medical Advancement and recognised international leader on the case against bio-medical vivisection.

Sue Kedgley, Green Party MP, Animal Welfare Spokesperson & sponsor of a Bill on animal research transparency. Mark Eden, Co-ordinator NAVC, National Anti Vivisection Campaign & Co-author of ŒLifting the Veil¹ Report. Dr Michael Morris, recently Senior Lecturer in Ecology at Shibaura Institute of Technology in Japan and a researcher into animal experiments in New Zealand. Deidre Bourke, BSC, BA, LLB (Hon) Co-Chair of ARLAN, Animal Rights Legal Advocacy Network & Co-author of ŒLifting the Veil¹ Report.

Every year in New Zealand over 260,000 animals are used in experiments. Half are killed, and many thousands are subjected to what the Government itself describes as severe or very severe suffering. In the most recent figures released, 35% of the animals were used by commercial researchers. Only 11.5% were used in medical research. Animal research in this country is shrouded in secrecy. This report is an attempt to lift this veil of secrecy.

Inadequacies of the Law - The regulatory system governing vivisection is touted by the Government as being the best in the world. We compared the New Zealand animal research laws with those of several other countries and discovered the New Zealand system is actually lagging behind in terms of accountability and openness.

The New Zealand system has no truly independent reviews; an ethics committee system that can be easily 'stacked' with fellow sympathetic researchers; has no requirement to use non-animal alternatives; and an inability to ensure experiments are not replicated.

"The current legislation promotes a culture of secrecy and contains inadequate checks and balances to prevent abuse of the system and abuse of animals," says Deidre Bourke.

Gross Negligence - Individual institutions are clearly negligent in their duties under the Animal Welfare Act in terms of recording and filing accurate returns. There is evidence of systematic and gross reporting errors and failings.

"This failure to take record-keeping seriously is a reflection of the fact that animal research is conducted in secret with little accountability. Institutional failings, include systematic errors, inaccurate figures and a serious lack of understanding of even basic responsibilities," said Deidre Bourke.

Culture of Secrecy - It is virtually impossible to obtain detailed information on animal experiments in New Zealand. It took months and sometimes years to obtain even rudimentary information on animal use from various institutions.

"Universities and Government institutions involved in animal research are very reluctant to release information and often delay and obstruct requests. More than half the institutions were unaware of, or intentionally ignored, their responsibilities. " said Deidre Bourke.

Behind Closed Doors ­ Only a small percentage (usually about 10% each year) of experiments are actually aimed at benefiting human health (We do not believe that even this 10% can be justified either ethically or scientifically.). Most experiments in New Zealand are for agricultural purposes, many aimed at increasing profits from modern intensive farming. Agricultural research includes experiments involving massive amounts of animal suffering in shock and burn experiments. Cats and dogs have been killed in experiments at Massey University, some of which involved Œsevere suffering¹.

"Despite making significant attempts to obtain this information over several years, we have only been able to uncover a very small percentage of the animal experiments in New Zealand. We believe the public will be shocked by the experiments described here, and will support our call for a full and open debate about vivisection in this country," said Mark Eden.

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