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NAEAC Annual Report Released


5 September 2006

2005 National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report Released

Notification of the numbers of animals used in research, testing and teaching was released today, in the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) Annual Report.

For the second year in a row, the number of animals used in research, testing and teaching has remained below the long-term (17-year) average of 273,000 animals per year. The last year saw a slight increase in the number of animals used from 246,122 in 2004 to 263,214 in 2005. Some of this variation can be attributed to a three year reporting cycle.

Figures show that 82 percent of animals experienced no or little suffering. There was a decrease in the number of animals reported in the ‘moderate suffering’ category and a small increase in the number of animals reported in the ‘severe suffering or very severe suffering’ categories. Most animals in these categories are used for testing of animal vaccines or for public health testing for shellfish biotoxins.

Chairperson, John Martin, said in NAEAC’s experience, all projects associated with moderate, severe or very severe suffering take all possible steps to reduce or improve the impact on animals. Steps may include a high level of veterinary care, pre- and post-operative pain relief and removal from the study or euthanasia once the research objective is achieved.

“It is important to remember that the treatment and cure for many diseases in the world rely on animal research. And research is not just about developing new drugs for humans – many of the drugs tested on animals are being developed for animals.”

The animal types most commonly used in 2005 were sheep, mice, cattle, and birds. Mice, sheep and cattle have all been included in the four most commonly-used animals since 1989. Birds displaced rats as the fourth most-used species and were last in this position in 1999.

“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 (AEC),” Mr Martin said.

“The Act requires every code-holder to establish and maintain an AEC, to which NAEAC provides information and advice.”

The AECs are an important part of the approval process set by the Act to ensure that the use of animals in research, testing and teaching is carried out in accordance with the Act and the principles of the ‘Three Rs’.

AECs must include at least three independent members: a veterinarian, a person nominated by an approved animal welfare organisation, and a person nominated by a local authority. There is also a statutory requirement for both AECs and code-holders to be independently reviewed.

A key function of NAEAC is to provide independent advice to the Minister of Agriculture on ethical and animal welfare issues arising from the use of animals in research, testing and teaching.

Through its strategic planning, NAEAC has continued to promote the concepts of humane science and continues to pursue improvements by encouraging alternative non-animal testing when possible. This is supported by NAEAC’s promotion of the ‘Three Rs’, which encourage:
- replacement of live and conscious animals in experiments with unconscious or non-living alternatives at every opportunity;
- reduction in numbers to the minimum; and
- refinement of experimental techniques so as to minimise or eliminate any suffering involved.

This is the sixth Annual Report since the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) became a statutory committee in 2000. A copy of the report is available at
http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/animal-welfare/naeac/annual-report/naeac-ar-05.pdf

ENDS

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