Experimentation figures do not show reality of animal tests

The Ministry for Primary Industries has released figures on the numbers of animals used for research, testing and teaching in 2015. It was reported that 225,310 animals were used, over 4,300 per week, and over about two in every five were dead by the end. This is a drop from the 310,287 used in 2014. The animals experimented on included cows, mice, rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, fish and more.

Although the numbers have decreased compared to 2014, this is it be expected because some studies take place across several years, and MPI requires the numbers of animals to be reported at the end. These figures do not indicate a trend, or result from any policy change.

“This drop is nothing more than a glitch due to how the figures are reported. Just last year a change to ensure animal experiments only took place when there was no alternative was put forward and rejected by the government. This is in contrast to the European Union where considering alternatives is a legal requirement, offering some basic protection to animals used for scientific purposes.” says campaigns and policy officer Stephen Manson.

“The figures released only include the animals used in experiments that finished last year, it certainly doesn’t include those confined and being used for breeding, or those that don’t get used but are instead killed as they are not wanted.”

“We need investment in cutting edge methods, for example those that use human cells in 3D models, computer modelling, and other innovative scientific methods that advance science without animal suffering. Without this, it will continue to be business as usual; a drop one year, an increase the next. In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of animals suffer when they don’t need to, particularly given the severe limitations of translating outcomes from animal research to human medical progress.”

Also revealed in the MPI report was that more animals suffered in the high and very high impact categories than the previous year, undergoing procedures that by MPI’s own admission can cause extreme pain and distress.

“What those over ten thousand animals went through before dying last year is reduced down to a page of short bullet points in a report. Our system needs to change; it needs to come out from behind closed doors and be completely transparent. Given that tax payers money is used to fund most research, the public deserve to know the full truth and failures of this inefficient and unethical use of funds.” Mr Manson added.

SAFE would like to see an overhaul of the regulatory system overseeing New Zealand’s animal experiments, a system that SAFE says is vulnerable to abuse and non-compliance, and an immediate stop of all experiments expected to fall into the high and very high impact categories.

But right now, there is something you can do. Though cosmetics testing on animals is now illegal in New Zealand, products are still coming in from overseas.  By boycotting cosmetics tested on animals, you can take a stand against animal testing.

Take Action

  • Download the SAFEshopper app now, to ensure you are not buying products tested on animals overseas.
  • Find out more about animal testing in New Zealand on our infographic.

12 December 2016