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Australia: One Animal Killed Every Hour for Scientific Testing

By: for news.com.au on July 4, 2009

One animal in NSW [New South Wales, Australia] is killed every hour during testing for new medicines and cosmetic products.

The Daily Telegraph has revealed 8813 animals - including birds, guinea pigs and endangered marsupials - were killed during 12 months of trials.

Another 16,000 were kept conscious and subjected to a "a moderate or large degree of pain/distress that is not effectively alleviated".

The details are contained in the State Government's latest Animal Research Review Panel report, with critics claiming the findings prove federal and state measures to replace animals in research were failing.

Despite a three-year campaign pushing for animal testing alternatives, deaths during tests of how lethal drugs are were up by 1087 between 2006 and 2007.

The dead animals included eight of 14 native stripe faced dunnart - classified as vulnerable by the NSW Department of Environment - which were bombarded with pesticides to see how it would affect their immune function.

A justification provided for the immunity test said there was a "lack of toxicity data for endemic Australian species".

Thousands of mice died during mandated tests on vaccines for pets while 40 were killed with lethal doses of streptococcus pyogenes in a bid to develop a vaccine for humans.

University of Wollongong researcher Dr Denise Russell said the tests were cruel and had continued even when alternatives were available and in spite of government appeals.

"What hasn't been addressed is replacing animals with alternatives like computer simulation and the use of tissue samples which don't require that we take the animal and house them in a prison and just kill them in cruel ways," Dr Russell said yesterday.

NSW review panel chair Professor Margaret Rose said that the 16,000 animals being subjected to category 7 testing, the most painful test while the animal remains awake, was cause for concern.

Among the thousands of animals were 14 horses, almost 3000 fish which had their water poisoned for environmental testing, almost 1000 chickens, 379 sheep and 59 cows.

Professor Rose said laws in place forced many government laboratories, pharmaceutical companies and other private firms to kill animals during required tests.

"It is important actually that the community is concerned about the number of animals (being used in testing)," Professor Rose said.

"If that (pain) is not being relieved, that is something we need to try to hone in on and try to see how it can be reduced."

She said work was under way to prevent animals used to test how lethal drugs are being allowed to suffer before their deaths.

Scientists were trying to work out an "endpoint" where they could prove their experiment but euthanase the animal before their suffering was severe.

Professor Rose said the streptococcus experiment was one example of testing that was of great benefit to humans because the bacteria had caused infections in hospital patients.

Animal rights groups were outraged so many animals had died during testing. "It is terrible ... I certainly think the community needs to know more about what the experiments are for," Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes said.

Tags:
[ animals ] [ rights ]
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