Animal Experimentation

Posted on 06/15/10 in , No Comments

Put an end to the confinement, pain and distress inflicted on animals during scientific experimentation.

Animal Experimentation Policy

Ask the experimenters why they experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are like us.’ Ask the experimenters why it is morally okay to experiment on animals, and the answer is: ‘Because the animals are not like us.’

Charles R. Magel

Position:

The Animal Justice Party opposes the use of animals in experimentation unless it can be demonstrated that the experimentation will: (a) not harm the animal, (b) enable the animal to be returned to where it came from in a fit state, and (c) benefit both the individual animal involved and contribute to better outcomes for its species. Australian governments at all levels have a responsibility to prevent the suffering of animals of any species used in any type of research, whether it be for scientific, commercial or military purposes.

Background:

Literally millions of animals are used in scientific experimentation in Australia every year.   Medical research and the testing of products, using animals as ‘models’ for humans, are huge and lucrative industries, supporting not only researchers and laboratory technicians, but universities, pharmaceutical firms and even the manufacturers of cages and instruments.

Increasingly, scientists and health professionals are questioning the part animals have played in the progress of medicine.  For years the public have been led to believe that animal experimentation is a necessary evil and that there would have been little if any medical progress without the use of animals.  This is a gross exaggeration, as any in-depth study of medical history reveals that the major breakthroughs were achieved through clinical research, epidemiological studies and autopsies of humans.

Sophisticated non-animal research and testing methodologies are being developed throughout the world, and are increasingly able to replace current animal-based research.  These alternatives include the use of human cells and tissues, human gene studies, analytical technology, microorganisms, computer models, population research and volunteer studies.

All Australian governments stipulate that scientists ‘must’ consider the 3Rs; replacement, refinement and reduction, when conducting animal research.  However, there is nothing in practice that compels either individual researchers or institutions to do so.

There are organisations which provide access to information on alternatives to animal research, such as Dresden-based Transinsight (http://www.Go3R.org ), the Australian Replace Animals in Australian Testing (http://www.uow.edu.au/arts/research/raat/index.html ) and Medical Advances Without Animals (http://www.mawa-trust.org.au/).

The main function of ethics committees within every university and institution licensed to carry out animal-based research and testing is to protect the animals in its care.  Unfortunately, they actually operate to prevent any changes to the status quo.  All ethics committees have a voting majority of animal experimenters and their supporters (and usually an even greater majority if non-voting members are included), and there is only token representation by the animal rights/animal welfare movement.  Ethics committees represent a very real threat to the promotion of non-animal alternatives.

It is impossible to accept that members of ethics committees, who stand to benefit by the continued use of laboratory animals, should be in charge of administering standards of animal welfare and prevention of cruelty and misuse of animals.  Self-regulation can never be effective, especially when it involves those who cannot speak for themselves.

Policy initiatives:

The AJP seeks a review of ARC and NH&MRC funding to ensure suitable support is being provided to encourage non-animal experimentation.  It seeks a review of the animal ethics processes undertaken by higher education and other education institutions, as well as research organisations such as the CSIRO, and medical and zoological research bodies to ensure that codes of practice and other guidelines are rigorously applied.  It seeks a review of the project funding priorities of the Federal Government’s Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation to ensure there is no support provided by this organisation for research that brings harm to animals. The AJP also seeks a review of the wildlife licensing arrangements in all spheres of government, as they relate to the use of animals for scientific experiments, to ensure they comply with the principles outlined above.

The AJP will immediately mandate and organise certified labelling of all commercial products, including cleaning agents and toiletries, that have not been tested on animals at any stage.  A list of these cruelty-free products should be made widely available to the public.

The AJP will place an immediate ban on the use of stray dogs and cats from government pounds in animal research.