Animal testing: Right or wrong?
With all the media attention and commentary within our communities about synthetic cannabis, there has been associated discussion about the testing of these products on animals.
Within our practice, coffee break discussions often revolve around the concerns about animal testing, puppy farms, battery chickens and animal welfare.
Most of the population are happy not to think about the fact that the products they use every day have been tested on animals for safety or efficacy reasons.
The testing is usually required because of government legislation created to protect people from potential harm.
Thousands of animals in New Zealand and an estimated 115 million worldwide are used every year for all sorts of testing – for drugs, cosmetics, household cleaners, food additives and agrichemicals.
The animals include mice, rats, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, farm animals, birds, fish, cats, dogs and monkeys.
In New Zealand, the use of animals in research, testing and teaching is strictly controlled under the Animal Welfare Act 1999, and organisations using animals must follow an approved code of ethical conduct.
Every project must be approved and monitored by an ethics committee.
These are regulated by the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee, a division of the Ministry for Primary Industries.
It would be wonderful if no animal needed to be used to test a product.
However, if that was the case, humans would have to carry all the risk.
Peta, an organisation for the ethical treatment of animals, believes no animal should be used for food, clothing, experimentation or entertainment.
Though I believe in many of Peta’s principles, I still eat meat, wear leather and use products, such as medicines, that have been tested on animals.
I believe that if testing on animals is done it must be carried out ethically and that the animals be treated humanely during and at the end of their lives.
I also believe that if animals are being used in the testing of a prod- uct, it should be of true benefit to the people and the community.
Of course, when the product is a synthetic drug used for pleasure, or even cosmetics, the waters get a bit muddy.
Why should an animal be subjected to potential harm for a product that has dubious benefits?
Some would suggest the people who want to use the products should be the guinea pigs.
This might be fine for consenting adults, but do we really want children taking those risks, because they will with little thought of the consequences.
Peta’s website last month congratulated the New Zealand Government for deciding to ban all animal testing for recreational drugs along with the ban of synthetic cannabis.
I’m happy that the Government has banned synthetic cannabis and that animals won’t be used to test these products.
However, the discussion on animal testing will continue.
Animal rights: Protestors against animal testing for synthetic drugs.