Australian state inquiry receives hundreds of submissions on animal use in health research
The New South Wales health research system needs more funding to improve training in animal use and find ways to reduce the practice, a parliamentary inquiry into the state has said.
A submission from the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AAMRI) said there should be a national center “for the replacement, refinement and reduction of animals in research”.
The survey investigates how medical researchers use animals and “the potential public health risks and benefits posed by this research”. It also examines possible alternatives and ways to reduce the use of animals, as well as ethical issues and whether current regulations are adequate.
Submissions have now closed, with 731 received from the public, research institutes and animal welfare groups.
Protection and respect
While AAMRI has highlighted the benefits derived from using animals in research, such as insulin therapy, cervical cancer vaccine and treatments for Parkinson’s disease, others submissions criticized the practice.
The Cat Protection Society submission stated that “pets are sentient, deserve protection and respect, and be given the chance to live their best life. They are not disposable; they are not “tools” to be used repeatedly to demonstrate things already known; and to any extent an animal is ever used in research, such use must be demonstrated as necessary. This point of view has been echoed in many other communications.
Rachel Smith, chief executive of Humane Research Australia, told a May 16 inquiry hearing that “a culture of animal use is prevalent in academia, industry and regulatory agencies. This despite the fact that animal models have never been scientifically validated but simply accepted by default.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals refrained from calling for a ban on animal research, but said research on primates should not be allowed. “The RSPCA opposes the use of animals for research where there is injury, pain or suffering which cannot be prevented or adequately controlled and where the use of animals is not not clearly justified,” his memoir reads.
“The RSPCA is particularly concerned about the use of ‘high impact’ experimental animal models where there are inherent and insurmountable risks to welfare, or where the tests or procedures have questionable scientific validity. The RSPCA also opposes the use of non-human primates for laboratory research due to the extreme difficulty of meeting their physical and behavioral needs in a research environment.
He also criticized a “lack of transparency”, pointing out that the last report on animal use in NSW was from 2019.
Regulation and transparency
AAMRI opposed new regulations, saying: “It should be noted that in New South Wales the use of animals in medical research is heavily regulated by both legislation and guidelines. national. This ensures the highest possible animal welfare, as well as a strong ethical framework that ensures animals are only used when there are no other alternatives.
Anthony Cunningham, president of the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory branch of the Australian Academy of Health Sciences and Medicine, told the inquest that the Covid-19 vaccine “provides an important recent example” of the need for animal testing. “Rapid development and deployment of drugs and vaccines would not have been possible without initial animal testing to establish that they are safe and effective,” he said.
While the academy is committed to reducing animal use, “it should be noted that current alternatives cannot completely replace animal research. The academy also supports transparent reporting on the use of animals in research,” he said.
The Australian and New Zealand Council for Animal Care in Research and Education hopes researchers will sign an “opening agreement” at its annual conference in July. The agreement would commit animal-using researchers to publicly report their animal use and engage in a more public discussion of the reasons for animal use.
Final hearings for the inquest are scheduled for June 28, but no date for a final report has been set. It is chaired by a government MP, with an Animal Justice Party MP as vice-chair.