Massey University has announced it intends to stop using animals for science – but only where technology allows, according to a Stuff report.
The university is the first to publicly pledge to end the use of animals in its testing where possible, Stuff noted.
AgScience was alerted to this news not by the university – although we are on its e-mailing list for press statements – but by the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society, an organisation dedicated to stopping animals from being used in experiments.
Last Thursday it released a press statement, headed Top Marks For Massey University, which said:
Massey University has become the first New Zealand institute to publicly commit to replacing the use of animals for science.
NZAVS, New Zealand’s only charity 100% dedicated to stopping animals from being used in experimentation, has crowned Massey University as the first institute in NZ to publish a clear Statement of Intent that it is “committed to replacing the use of animals for science, wherever possible, as technology permits.”
The charity applauds this ‘scientific breakthrough’ and thanks Massey University for leading the way in New Zealand, which has more than 100 institutes that could make this same commitment.
NZAVS hailed this as a ‘scientific breakthrough’ by Massey University because “it proves the science and research community is now taking the lead in lieu of any government leadership”.
Together with the science and research industry, NZAVS said, it has persistently presented a ‘case for scientific change’ to the New Zealand Government and at a pivotal Select Committee hearing earlier this year to ultimately replace and, therefore, phase out the harmful use of animals for science in New Zealand
As part of that case, NZAVS has pushed for policy and law change for New Zealand to categorically commit to phasing out the use of animals for science as technology permits. By doing so, New Zealand will match other jurisdictions like the US, UK and the EU that have already set a clear direction at the government level for scientific institutes to adhere to.
Tara Jackson, Executive Director of NZAVS, says: “Our end goal at NZAVS is to see an end to animal experimentation entirely. Until then, we need New Zealand to ‘catch up’ and ‘step up’ in terms of best practices for using and funding innovative animal-free methods. By making this clear public statement, Massey University is forging a path in Aotearoa to encourage both.”
A Massey University press officer confirmed the university had not issued a press statement to announce this development.
Rather, the university had posted a statement of intent on its website.
The press officer said:
“The statement of intent is at the top of this page: https://www.massey.ac.nz/research/ethics/animal-ethics/
“It was recently updated and resulted in the release from NZAVS, so there is no other announcement as such.”
The link took AgScience to a page headed Animal Ethics.
There is no mention on this page of the words “statement of intent” but it does advise:
Animal use at Massey University
Animals can be used for research, teaching and testing only when ethically and scientifically justified and if other methods are not available or practical. This includes mammals (farm, domestic, wild, marine and laboratory), birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and crustaceans.
The projects at Massey may involve:
- development of fundamental knowledge
- conservation and ecology
- environmental management
- animal science
- veterinary science
- human medical science
- production of biological agents
- testing foods and other products that may benefit animal or human health
- evaluating the nutritional qualities of foods.
Our veterinary, animal science and agriculture science courses may use animals for teaching purposes.
The Stuff report quotes Massey University’s animal welfare officer, Juliet Cayzer, as saying Massey was proud to be the first organisation to publish the pledge on its website.
“It was easy to do so because it reflected the heart of the animal ethics committee and of the people that use animals at Massey.”
The report also quotes New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society’s Tara Jackson as saying the university’s commitment to ending its use of animals was just the beginning.
“We’re urging all institutes using animals for science to make this same commitment.
“Imagine a future Aotearoa where the entire animal science and research community shares this progressive vision for the future.
“The power of such a unified front has limitless potential for both animals and science.”
The charity had pushed for policy and law change to commit to phasing out the use of animals for science as technology permitted, Miss Jackson said.
If it was successful, New Zealand’s laws would match other jurisdictions like the US, UK and the EU that have already set a clear direction at the government level for scientific institutes to adhere to.
However, as it stood, there were “outdated laws and legislation” that continued to require animal tests, but many institutions wanted to find new ways of testing that avoided using animals, she said.
“One of the things we know is lacking is a unified vision for this research community … to end animal experiments in this country, there’s no goals set in place to actually make that happen.
“This statement is huge in shifting the culture. Rather than saying what we want to hear behind closed doors, it’s showing the public that that’s what they want to do.”
Tara Jackson said the goal was to end animal testing forever, but the nation needed to “catch up” on best practices and boost funding for animal-free methods before that could be achieved.
“By making this clear public statement, Massey University is forging a path in Aotearoa to encourage both.”
But it was a “clear public statement” only for those who knew where to look for the statement of intent that has not been published as a “statement of intent”.