Australian inquiry wants forced swim test phased out as Animal Resources Center takeover progresses
A report to the New South Wales government has recommended changes to the state’s animal research laws and a ‘swift’ abolition of practices known as the forced swim test and the smoke tower test .
Meanwhile, the Western Australian government has announced that local company Ozgene would be the likely bidder to take over its animal resources centre, which supplies research animals to laboratories across Australia.
The New South Wales parliamentary report, released on October 21 by the parliamentary health committee, recommended that veterinarians be included on animal ethics committees, that state funding for animal research be controlled and that the State adopt “a mandatory model for homing animals used in medical research”.
A review of the state’s Animal Research Act of 1985 should focus on overbreeding, animal housing and care, and whistleblower protection, the report said.
The NSW Government should “engage with the Australian Government at Ministerial level to advocate for nationally consistent reporting requirements on the use of animals in medical research, including the separate and discreet reporting of animals involved in observational studies,” the committee recommended.
He also suggested that there should be “appropriate funding for the administration of Australia’s open animal research agreement” and that the government should “explore opportunities to ensure that all institutions of research sign this agreement”.
Malcolm France, a consultant veterinarian who chaired the Australian and New Zealand Council for Animal Care’s Greater Openness Working Group in Research and Education, said the survey report contained ” clear recommendations that balance legitimate community concerns with trends in medical research.This is an outcome that will be critical to maintaining social acceptability and, in most cases, recommendations, if they are implemented, will lay a very effective foundation for continued progress.
He told Research Professional News that “several of the recommendations are aimed at providing much greater openness and transparency in animal research, which I applaud. Australia has fallen behind other countries in this area in recent years despite advocacy for change not only from the animal welfare community, but also from some members of the scientific community.
Rachel Smith, chief executive of animal welfare group Humane Research Australia, said the report was “very promising. We would have liked to see a recommendation specifically related to primates, such as mandatory retrospective reviews of all primate research, or requiring ministerial approval for all primate research, but other than that I think ‘it more than met our expectations and I just hope the government adopts the recommendations.
A statement from HRA highlighted the call to phase out swim and smoke testing and fund a research center dedicated to reducing the need for animal research.
“The use of animals in medical research is clearly an issue of great public concern,” he said.
Animal supply center
In July 2021, it was announced that the Western Australia-based Animal Resource Center would close, raising fears of major disruption to research projects and the loss of important genetic lines.
Since then, the WA government has been looking for a way out of the loss-making facility while maintaining the supply of research animals.
In a statement released on October 20, he said Ozgene was his “preferred” supplier. Ozgene, which is based in Perth, has an existing business that supplies genetically modified mice to researchers, mostly outside Australia. He also has a breeding facility in the United States.
“Ozgene has a clear plan to maintain the Animal Resources Center as a sustainable provider and understands the importance of sustainable access to a range of products and services,” said the Department of Employment, Tourism, of state science and innovation.
The parties have signed an authorization to sell, but it includes “several conditions that require resolution before the transaction is completed”. The issues to be resolved were not specified.
The deal has a December completion date and an official announcement is expected then. The statement said Ozgene would be interviewing staff at the center about their “job transition.”
Ozgene has been contacted for comment.