Huge Victory - AgResearch Bans the Use of the Forced Swim Test in NZ!

AgResearch is the first research institute to ban the use of the Forced Swim Test in Aotearoa!
December 19, 2023

Today, we are delighted to announce that AgResearch, which is one of seven Crown Research Institutes in Aotearoa, has committed to prohibiting the use of the Forced Swim Test!

They have just updated their Code of Ethical Conduct (a legally binding document) so that it now states that: Their Animal Ethics Committee will “not consider an application that includes the Porsolt Swim Test.”

This announcement means that:

  • AgResearch is the first research institute to effectively ban the use of the Forced Swim Test in Aotearoa.
  • The AgResearch Animal Ethics Committee will not approve any use of the Forced Swim Test. The Forced Swim Test will, therefore, not be approved for any study put forward to their animal ethics committee.  

This step forward by AgResearch is huge and far-reaching as their animal ethics committee parents over 40 other institutes using animals for research, testing and teaching in NZ. This means that it is now impossible for over a third of all institutes in Aotearoa to use the Forced Swim Test!

We are deeply appreciative of the team at AgResearch, who has championed this NZ watershed moment for animals used in science with the institute. They are genuinely conscious of their responsibility and need for openness and accountability in their research involving animals.

Without trust and respect for each other, we would not be able to make these breakthroughs, and so this mahi we do together, even though it may take time (and for very legitimate reasons), the impact on animals is huge, and it is long-lasting.

NZAVS has been working to end the use of this animal test in NZ for several years now and, by doing so, challenge the NZ Government that prides itself on keeping pace with ‘changes in scientific knowledge, good practice, available technology and our society’.

Even though the Forced Swim Test is archaic and unreliable, the NZ Government does not want to ban the use of the test, so its use is still permitted here. This means it’s now up to the individual animal ethics committees across the country to allow the use of the test or not in institutes, including universities.

Now, with AgResearch making this powerful public stance, a hefty nail has been hammered into the coffin of the Forced Swim Test.

NZAVS has put a lot of work into collaborating with Animal Ethics Committees and educating the scientific industry as a whole about the invalidity of this test.

As a result, NZ Universities across the motu, earlier this year, received a ‘Thank you card’ signed by thousands of our supporters like you, commending these institutes for exercising their power to steer clear of the Forced Swim Test. 

With each institute tackling the Forced Swim Test and ending its use, we will continue to push our new government to make the ‘no brainer’ Forced Swim Test ban and signal to the world that Aotearoa, New Zealand, can be a global leader in animal welfare.   

This is the only future of the Forced Swim Test, and together with our thousands of fierce supporters, we will continue to make sure this archaic test isn’t used in 2024!

A reminder of the Forced Swim Test

The Forced Swim Test is an animal test that involves small animals, such as rats or mice, being made to swim in an inescapable beaker of water to measure their response to the threat of drowning. Some researchers use the test as a misguided attempt to mimic depression or hopelessness in humans. The Forced Swim Test has been scrutinised here and internationally for its lack of validity.

You can learn more about the Forced Swim Test here.

With your help we can end animal experimentation in Aotearoa.