We're asking the NZ Government to commit to phasing out the use of animals for science as technology permits.
We are asking the NZ Government to commit to phasing out the use of animals for science as technology permits.
Currently, there is no end goal in place to set a direction and help with strategies and day-to-day operations at different organisations using animals for science. No one wants to use animals in experiments or other harmful ways. Formalising that desire and setting a clear direction for our science community is required from the NZ Government.
Internationally, other jurisdictions are already doing this.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had announced plans to phase out mammal testing by 2035 in their New Approach Methods Work Plan in 2020.1 There is no timeline in the updated 2021-Work Plan,2 but steps are being taken towards the goal.
The U.S. Toxic Substance Control Act,3 the Food and Drug Amendments, and the FDA Modernization Act (both included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act)4 all include the encouragement to replace the use of vertebrates wherever possible and replace “animal tests” with “nonclinical tests”, respectively.
The Netherlands National Committee for the Protection of Animals Used for Scientific Purposes (NCad) stated in 2016 that for regulatory safety testing, testing on animals could be phased out by 2025.5
The Transition Programme for Innovation without the Use of Animals (TPI) was launched in June 2018 with a focus on increasing animal-free innovation.6
Norway has established a National Consensus Platform for the advancement of the 3Rs. Norecopa was founded on 10 October 2007 and is covering links to other databases, books, media, guidelines, journals and discussion forums.7
Norway's Committee for Laboratory Animals supports the development of a fully operating 3Rs Centre, additionally to the Norecopa database, and to hold a Norwegian public investigation (NOU) to survey the potential for a transition to research without animal testing, formulate clear objectives, and produce a concrete plan for the transition. This Committee suggests following the Netherlands in their approach to limit the use of animals.8
The Guidance on the Operation of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act (ASPA) requires researchers to ensure, to the greatest extent, the use of non-animal methods to achieve scientific objectives, wherever possible. Even licenses granted can be revoked if new technology becomes available.9
At an online debate held by RSPCA in 2021, attended by members of animal rights organisations, government, Unilever and other stakeholders, the feasibility of phasing-out animal experiments in the UK was discussed.10
The EU Directive on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes explicitly marks the “full replacement of procedures on live animals for scientific and educational purposes as soon as it is scientifically possible” as the ultimate goal.11
The European Commission and several industry sectors form the European Partnership for Alternative Approaches to Animal Testing (EPAA) to promote the 3Rs and facilitate the advances of alternative methods. The recent focus is on optimised communication, education and the translation of new methods into regulatory use.12
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)13 and the European Medicines Agency (EMA)14 have put in place strategies to actively reduce and replace animal testing. Similarly, the European Parliament published a resolution with concrete plans to reduce the use of animals and to accelerate phasing it out.15
The European Union Reference Laboratory for Alternatives to Animal Testing (EURL ECVAM) works continuously on developing and validating new methods, but also databases, regulatory acceptance and international adoption of alternatives, including their promotion and dissemination. EURL ECVAM is funded with around 5 million EUR (~ 8.6 million NZD) per year by the EU.16
There are several more countries, where initiatives to get legislation regarding a phase-out of animal testing are underway. For example in Australia, the MAWA Trust will establish the Australian Centre for Alternatives to Animal Research in partnership with the Australian National University.17 The NSW Government is also reviewing both the Forced Swim Test and the Smoking Tower Test after a report to the parliament suggested banning them.18 According to Norecopa, Ukraine opened a 3Rs Centre in 2020, working to advance Replacement where possible.19