Increased suffering reveals failure of animal testing system

A 35% increase in the number of animals suffering in experiments indicates the failure of the animal testing regulatory system. The National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC) has released its latest annual report on animal testing in New Zealand, revealing that 327,674 animals were experimented on in 2011 - a deplorable figure.

"Despite NAEAC's responsibility to reduce animal experiments, little has changed in 10 years, with nearly 3 million animals tested on in the last decade," says SAFE Campaign Manager Mandy Carter. "Even worse, an average of 43% of animals died or were euthanised following the end of the studies."

In 2011, a staggering 17,581 animals were subjected to the two severest impact grades of animal testing, where animals will have undergone procedures that cause extreme pain and distress. Most were mice and fish, with possums, cats, cows, sheep and rabbits also suffering in these cruel experiments.

The report also reveals that the majority of animal testing in New Zealand takes place on ‘production animals', particularly cows and sheep - experiments aimed at increasing the profits of animal agricultural industries. This includes the controversial genetic engineering done at AgResearch - most recently, macabre experiments on mice and cows resulting in a single ‘successful' deformed calf - undertaken in order to produce cows with ‘added value' to the dairy industry. Less than 10% of tests were performed for medical research.

"There seems to be no real commitment to reduce the suffering in New Zealand labs," says Ms Carter. "Unfortunately, the Government seems content with the status quo, even though most Kiwis completely oppose cruelty to animals and there are better alternative non-animal testing methods available."

"The NAEAC report obscures the reality of suffering for animals each day in New Zealand labs. There is a real lack of transparency and SAFE questions the integrity of the system," says Ms Carter.

As part of this year's Animal Welfare Act review SAFE called for an overhaul of the regulatory system overseeing New Zealand's animal experiments, a system that is vulnerable to abuse and non-compliance and that works to conceal animal suffering. SAFE encourages the public to contact their local MP through the website animalwelfare.org.nz and demand a system that provides genuine protection for New Zealand's laboratory animals.

October 2012