The agreement, signed by 21 organisations, was launched today at a conference in Queenstown held by the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART).
“Public confidence in animal research depends on the scientific community taking part in an on-going conversation about why and how animals are used,” said Professor Pat Cragg, of the University of Otago, the New Zealand chair of ANZCCART. Signing the agreement meant committing to this conversation with the public, he said.
Universities, institutes of technology, non-profits, and Crown Research Institutes are among those to sign up.
The five commitments are:
- Be clear about why and how animals are used in research and teaching
- Enhance communications with the media and the public about use of animals in research and teaching
- Enhance communications with tangata whenua about use of animals in research and teaching
- Be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research and teaching using animals
- Report on progress annually and share experiences
Professor Jim Metson, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Auckland, said the University would move gradually toward greater transparency.
“We will be more open and communicate more information, for example through the website, about our use of animals,” he said. At the same time, the university was conscious of the need to protect its research and researchers and would continue to restrict access to research facilities, he said.
The Openness Agreement on Animal Research and Teaching in New Zealand aims to ensure the public are well informed about animal research, including the benefits, harms, and limitations, ANZCCART says. “Topics such as the role animal research plays in the process of scientific discovery, how research is regulated in New Zealand, and what researchers and animal care staff do to promote positive animal welfare should be addressed,” it adds.
New Zealand’s agreement is modelled on the UK’s ground-breaking 2014 agreement.
“The judicious use of animals in research remains vital to scientific, medical, and veterinary progress,” said Dr Jodi Salinsky, animal welfare officer and veterinarian at the University of Auckland. “We look forward to the day when animals are no longer needed and honour the animals for the advances made that allow treatments, vaccinations, and cures for diseases to be found.”