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Animal ethics an important part of research

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity, Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health,
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education,
Minister Responsible for Public Trust

Progressive Leader

14th November 2006 Press release

Animal ethics an important part of research

Minister of Agriculture, Jim Anderton said today at the national Animal Ethics Committee workshop that animals are a vital part of our economy and a formative part of our history.

" Over half our export earnings come for agriculture. And the contribution of our primary industries is growing. Animal welfare issues have a very important place and Animal Ethics Committees are at the front line."

Mr Anderton made the point that animals will remain the backbone of our economy and that the work our scientists do on research stations and farms throughout the country is worth billions of dollars.
 It underpins our competitive advantage.
 Our agricultural science is internationally recognised.

"This Labour-Progressive Government has made a strong commitment to science. Our investment in the sector has increased by two thirds since it came to office in 1999. And we have a good story to tell about our food safety, environmental and social standards."

New Zealand scientists are involved at high levels contributing to international standards. Barry O’Neil, the head of Biosecurity New Zealand, is president of the World Organisation for Animal Health. David Bayvel, Director of Animal Welfare chairs the Permanent Animal Welfare Working Group of the OIE, the international organisation that looks at scientific veterinary information.

"All of us recognise there are different views about the use of animals in research, testing and teaching," said Jim Anderton "There are many concerned and interested individuals who put forward reasonable concerns about specific research or testing activity. Scientists have a responsibility to engage with reasonable concerns and respond to them openly and transparently."

The national Animal Ethics Committee has for four years been making an award for progress in reducing, refining and replacing animal testing. This year it has been won by Dr Craig Johnson of Massey University for work in developing a minimal anaesthesia technique. The Award will be presented to Dr Johnson at the Royal Society’s annual Science Honours Dinner tonight.

The law allows animal-based research, testing and teaching only for certain purposes:

- protecting human or animal health or welfare

- the management and protection of ecosystems

- the production and productivity of animals

The law also requires there to be good reason to believe that the benefits to be gained by the use of animals are not outweighed by the likely harm to them.

There are three independent members on each Animal Ethics Committees: an independent veterinarian; an animal welfare representative; and a lay person nominated by local government. Codes are rigorously examined by MAF at the national level, and every animal ethics committee has to be audited regularly by independent reviewers.


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