Transparency and Openness in Research, Testing, and Teaching
In New Zealand, animals are used for research, testing, and teaching (RTT) for a variety of reasons. Animals may be used in experiments to find new health treatments for humans or other animals, to better understand wildlife behaviour such as migration routes, to test the safety of a new drug, or to facilitate learning outcomes for students.
The role of Animal Ethics Committees
Under the Animal Welfare Act, use of animals in RTT in New Zealand must be reviewed and approved by an Animal Ethics Committee. Animal Ethics Committees are made up of a group of at least 4 members with diverse backgrounds and knowledge in science and research, animal welfare, public concerns, and veterinary medicine.
Animal Ethics Committees must weigh the costs or harms to the animal against the potential benefits of their use. Animal Ethics Committees must also consider if the proposed use of animals follows internationally recognised ethical principles that aim to improve the welfare of animals used in RTT. These principles are reduction, refinement, and replacement, otherwise known as the 3Rs:
- Reduction aims to reduce the number of animals used in RTT. For example, good scientific design of a study can help ensure the number of animals used is the fewest number required.
- Refinement aims to improve the procedures used in RTT, or the environmental conditions in which animals in RTT are housed. For example, refinement could be using pain relief to minimise the negative effects of an experiment or ensuring social animals live in appropriate groups.
- Replacement aims to replace the use of animals in RTT with non-animal alternatives. For example, instead of using animals for classroom dissection, 3D models or videos can be successful non-animal options to teach anatomy.
While our organisation supports efforts to refine and reduce the use of animals in RTT, SPCA is committed to and advocates for animals to be replaced in RTT by non-animal alternatives.
Openness and transparency in RTT
SPCA supports the public sharing of information related to the use of animals in RTT. It is important for the public to be more informed about how effectively the harm to animals is weighed against the perceived benefits of research, testing, or teaching, and to see how animal use and welfare harms are reduced, refined, and if possible replaced with non-animal alternatives.
SPCA also advocates for increased transparency for how animals are obtained and housed or held at research, testing, and teaching facilities and locations.
SPCA advocates for institutions, organisations, and companies to participate in multi-institutional commitments to promote transparency in use of animals in RTT.
The ANZCCART Openness Agreement
SPCA is a founding signatory of the Australia New Zealand Committee for the Care of Animals used in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART) Openness Agreement on Animal Research and Teaching in New Zealand. The Openness Agreement promotes greater transparency in animal-based research and teaching, encourages communication between the public and research and teaching institutions that use animals, and drives continuous improvements in animal care to ensure the highest standards of welfare for animals used in research and teaching.
There are five commitments that characterise the ANZCCART Openness Agreement:
1.Commitment 1: We will be clear about why and how we use animals in research and teaching.
2.Commitment 2: We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our use of animals in research and teaching.
3.Commitment 3: We will enhance our communications with tangata whenua about our use of animals in research and teaching.
4.Commitment 4: We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research and teaching using animals.
5.Commitment 5: We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.
You can find out more about the ANZCCART Openness Agreement here.
We support institutions, organisations, and companies that use animals in RTT to provide publicly available information about their use of animals through different platforms such as a website, social or traditional media announcements, and opportunities for members of the public to ask questions or provide comments.
SPCA is committed to improving the lives of animals used in RTT. Improved transparency and openness will contribute to the advancement of animal welfare.