Animal research

Animal research survey shows mixed feelings and more transparency needed

by the Australian and New Zealand Council for Animal Care in Research and Education (ANZCCART)

The use of mice and rats in scientific research is more widely accepted than other species, but acceptability varies by type of research. Credit: Australian and New Zealand Council for Animal Care in Research and Education (ANZCCART)

A landmark survey of Australians’ attitudes towards the use of animals in research has found that while the majority of the general public is in favour, this support is highly conditional and most agree that there needs to be more transparency.

The survey, commissioned by the Australian and New Zealand Council for Animal Care in Research and Education (ANZCCART), was conducted by Professor Rachel Ankeny, Dr Alexandra Whittaker and Dr Emily Buddle from the University of Adelaide through an independent survey company. .

The results revealed that more than half of the participants (56%) perceive that the use of animals for medical research is important for human health, and that support for the use of animals in all forms of scientific research was even higher (70%) as long as there is no animal suffering and no alternative.

However, the acceptance seems to be very conditional. Support for animal research varied greatly depending on the species used, with research on mice and rats being accepted much more readily than research on dogs, cats, primates, pigs, birds, fish or mammals. non-threatened Australians.

The survey also revealed a perception that improvements in supervision and regulation were needed. 49% of respondents believe that scientific research using animals is not always conducted to high standards and 69% believe that more could be done to reduce the suffering of animals used in scientific research.

ANZCCART board member Dr Malcolm France said it was particularly striking how many respondents felt research institutes needed to be more transparent about their use of animals.

“These numbers were the highest of any in the survey – even higher than the number of those who thought more needed to be done to develop methods that avoid the use of animals. [76%]“, said Dr. France.

“When asked if institutions should be more transparent, 82% agreed while 91% said ‘No’ when asked if their views on organizations conducting animal research corresponded to the statement that “They are open about their work”.

Prof Ankeny said the survey was an important step towards better understanding community attitudes towards animal research in an Australian context.

“This research is important because Australia’s animal research regulations, although already stringent, are reviewed periodically to reflect changing community views, but we have limited information to inform these reviews. “

“We believe this survey drew on the largest sample size for a survey on this topic in Australia – over 2,500 people – and we hope it will provide a baseline for future research,” she said.

A similar survey conducted every two years in the UK showed a steady decline in public acceptance of animal research. This prompted the launch of a voluntary ‘opening up agreement’ in 2014 which UK research institutions can sign to show their commitment to greater transparency in animal research. Similar agreements have since been launched in several other countries, including New Zealand. Dr France said ANZCCART is developing an Australian version which he hopes to launch later this year.

Animal research: it’s time to be more open

Provided by the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Education (ANZCCART)

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