After years of cruel experiments, the state science organisation AgResearch announced last month that it will stop animal cloning experiments. The experiments had a survival rate of only 10% and continued for over 13 years. SAFE supports calls to the government for an enquiry into what went wrong and how the problems were ignored for so long.

While the end of these experiments must be welcomed, SAFE campaign director Eliot Pryor says there are many questions remaining over what happened. "These terrible experiments were permitted by so-called ‘animal ethics committees' that allowed these experiments to continue. These were predictable deaths, so we are asking why they were allowed to continue for so long even after years of negative results?"

In May last year vet reports were made public through the Official Information Act that showed animal deaths from deformities. At the time applied biotechnologies general manager Jimmy Suttie said "he did not see the deaths as a "big deal", and they were part of the learning process for scientists." This week he is reported as having said "enough is enough".

SAFE must ask how they were allowed to first get permission, despite the resulting deformities being predicted, and how they were repeatedly allowed by an animal ethics committee, set up to prevent such suffering from happening in the name of science.

"We must also ask what would ever be an acceptable death rate in this situation?" says Mr Pryor. "These experiments are all about ‘adding value' to the agriculture industry and are driven by profit motives. To create animals that are known will be born deformed shows a serious lack of connection with commonly held values, and is something the public has always been uncomfortable with."

AgResearch is continuing to develop transgenic cattle, goats and sheep in experiments that hold similar risks of deformities and deaths.

17 March 2011