Report Recommends Allowing Cruel Animal Testing To Continue
A Parliamentary Select Committee has decided to recommend against banning the Forced Swim Test, despite expert advice stating that it is not an effective test. Over 25,000 people called upon the government to ban the test.
In the Forced Swim Test, also known as the Porsolt test, rats or mice are placed in a beaker of water and made to swim with no possibility of escape. It’s used by some researchers to try and measure depression or depression-like behaviour.
The Economic Development, Science and Innovation Select Committee produced a report detailing the arguments of both sides. All sides of the debate agreed the Forced Swim Test does not work.
“… the FST [Forced Swim Test] is not a great test in terms of efficacy, and it has an ethical cost. We heard that in the past the test has been used inappropriately, and inappropriate conclusions have been drawn from the test.”
Two animal rights groups were behind the petition to ban the test: The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS), and SAFE. International group PETA has also supported the call for a ban on this test in New Zealand. Shanti Ahluwalia, Campaign Manager for NZAVS, was appalled to hear the news.
“It is quite shocking that all of the advice provided shows this test is not very effective and yet the Committee still did not wish to see the test banned. That means animals could continue to suffer and research funding could continue to be wasted on a useless test.”
The report details that the test is likely to die out on its own, without the need for government intervention.
“We do not believe legislation is necessary to end the use of the Forced Swim Test. The test is used infrequently in New Zealand, and we heard that its use in academic studies is not likely to continue into the future.”
NZAVS disagrees and believes a ban would help facilitate the end of the test.
“It is just lazy governance. We are already at the point where many responsible scientists have already abandoned the test. It is just a few outdated scientists that cling to the Forced Swim Test despite it being repeatedly debunked. A ban really is the best way to get those last few scientists to change their ways.”
Despite the setback, NZAVS remains hopeful of securing a ban.
Now that the Select Committee has made its recommendations to the government, the government is able to make its own decision.
“An Act of Parliament seems unlikely at this stage, but we will be pressuring the government to pass a regulation to ban the Forced Swim Test. The Labour Party especially has based its branding on compassion, and that is not compatible with allowing a cruel, useless test like the Forced Swim Test to continue.”
In addition to maintaining pressure on the government to secure a ban on the Forced Swim Test, NZAVS intends to work with universities to phase it out of their own research.