Animals in Research, Testing and Teaching
SPCA advocates that all research, testing, and teaching protocols be subject to extensive ethical review, more stringent than that offered by the current ethical review process required under New Zealand legislation. This must include critical evaluation of the necessity and justification for animal use and implementation of the 3 Rs.
Animal experimentation in New Zealand is controlled by the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Procedures must only be carried out within an institution that has an approved Code of Ethical Conduct, working under the authorisation of an animal ethics committee (AEC). The AEC is required to weigh the likely benefits of the proposed research against the likely harms to the animals involved when considering whether to permit the work. Procedures are graded based on the increasing degree of severity of impact or invasiveness on the animals (Grades A through E; with A being the least invasive and E the most). Our organisation proposes for AECs to increase their scrutiny of all procedures and give greater consideration of proposed harms to animals in the cost/benefit analyses.
AECs are required to have membership that covers different perspectives on the use of animals in research, testing, and teaching. All AECs are required by law to have a representative from an approved organisation such as the SPCA.
SPCA advocates that the development of appropriate humane endpoints (HE) can potentially avoid pain and distress to animals used in experimentation and supports the use of HEs in all relevant research, teaching, and testing. SPCA advocates for AECs to increase their scrutiny of activities that allow for the death or severe morbidity of animals used in research, teaching, and testing.
Experimental protocols and endpoints must always be designed and modified to allow for the earliest possible alleviation of welfare harms in animals. For example, in pharmaceutical research it is sometimes possible to use “mechanistic endpoints” which look for a “biomarker” of disease (such as the presence of a certain molecule in the blood) instead of phenotypic or disease-driven endpoints that would allow a disease to affect the animal. The use of strict post-approval monitoring and compliance with any experimental protocol is required to ensure that HEs are followed.
Our organisation advocates that animal technicians, veterinarians, researchers, and AECs must be involved in discussions and training regarding the application of humane endpoints prior to and during the experimentation process.
SPCA advocates for increased transparency for how animals are obtained, held, or used in research, testing, and teaching facilities. Our organisation supports the publishing of all research results, including negative or inconclusive findings, to minimise unnecessary replication of experiments.
SPCA supports more extensive and transparent checks and reporting from all research, educational, breeding and animal supply facilities. It is important for the public to be able to assess how effectively the harm to animals is weighed against the perceived benefits of research within the approval process, and to see how animal use and welfare harms are reduced. Specifically, SPCA advocates that information be made publicly available on the aims of research that involves animal testing, the procedures and welfare harms involved, and the considerations within the approval process.
(See Experiments Causing Pain and Welfare Harms for more information)