The majority of New Zealanders do not want recreational drugs
tested on animals, a Herald-DigiPoll survey reveals.
A total of 44.3 per cent of those polled did not want
cosmetic and recreational drugs tested on animals, and
another 29.4 per cent said animal testing was not acceptable
under any circumstances.
The poll result came two weeks after Associate Health
Minister Peter Dunne said party pills would be tested on
animals before going on sale because human safety was
But the regulatory body for ethical animal treatment said
strict criteria could restrict such tests on dogs and rats.
National animal ethics advisory committee chairwoman Dr
Virginia Williams said companies had to prove a cost benefit
before research, testing and teaching could be done.
Dr Williams welcomed the Herald-Digi-Poll survey results but
queried understanding of the issue.
"I wonder if people realise that every time they get their
children vaccinated or their dogs and cats vaccinated, all
that has been tested on animals."
She applauded shoppers for showing more consideration in
their choices but said many products would not include animal
"I'm really pleased to hear that 44 per cent of people are
checking but I'm surprised they can find the information.
"I think it's great that people check and make their own
decisions and I think it's really important that people take
an ethical approach to this sort of thing.
And the more they do, the more pressure will come on for
people to find alternatives."
Attempts were being made to find ways of testing medicines
and drugs such as those used in chemotherapy without using
animals, Dr Williams said.
"But part of the thing that makes it slow is not finding
alternatives but having them validated by the regulatory
She said many people felt more comfortable with animal
testing once they knew more about the strict regulations
controlling it .
Regulations required in some cases that animals bred purely
for testing be used, but the testing proposals had to go
before one of about 33 animal ethics committees.
The committees included a vet, an animal welfare
representative and a lay person, as well as representatives
of the product requiring testing.
"The main thing they look at is a cost benefit analysis.
"They look at the cost to the animal in relation to the
proposed benefit. When you're looking at cat vaccines [for
example], you are looking at providing health for a large
majority of animals at the expense of a very few."
Dr Williams said New Zealand animal testing regulations under
the Animal Welfare Act were strong.
"But New Zealand is a little bit different in that most of
our research is agricultural-based."
Last year 37 per cent of the 327,000 animals used in
research, testing and teaching in New Zealand died or were
killed during projects.
- By Natalie Akoorie of NZ Herald