After finding out that Victoria University of Wellington has recently used the Forced Swim Test, we leapt straight into action urging them to immediately end the use of this cruel and irrelevant animal test.
The Victoria University Animal Ethics Committee is the group of people responsible for approving the use of tests like this. If a cruel animal experiment tasks place in New Zealand, it's because one of these committees has given it the tick of approval.
They have formally responded to NZAVS and SAFE, telling us that they are not committing to ending the use of the Forced Swim Test. That instead, they will leave it up to individuals applying to subject animals to this test, to justify it. This isn't good enough.
If the Victoria University of Wellington Animal Ethics Committee properly considered the validity of this test then approval would not be given.
It is disappointing that the university isn't embracing the opportunity to end the use of a cruel and invalid test especially at a time where pharmaceutical giants are making this exact commitment and receiving a lot of positive attention.
We need to continue encouraging Victoria University to make this commitment and join the global shift away from this cruel and irrelevant test.
TAKE ACTION: SEND A MESSAGE TO VICTORIA UNIVERSITY!
More info on Animal Ethics Committees
A commonly used (attempted) justification for the use of tests like the Forced Swim test is that Animal Ethics Committees are fully equipped to approve the use of animals in science.
According to the Ministry for Primary Industries, Animal ethics committees must have at least 4 members, 3 of whom must be external members:
- a nominee of an approved animal welfare organisation (the only approved organisation is the SPCA)
- a nominee of the New Zealand Veterinary Association
- a lay person to represent the public interest
There are some big issues with Animal Ethics Committees in NZ.
Normally institutes using animals will try and highlight the fact that someone from the Vet Association and someone from the SPCA is in their Animal Ethics Committee. What they fail to mention is that people who have conducted cruel animal experiments can also be in this committee. We also know of SPCA reps who have only lasted a short period of time on an animal ethics committee because of the emotional trauma it caused.
What is important to highlight is that these committees are NOT made up of experts on non-animal based research, testing or teaching methods yet they are responsible for deciding if no suitable replacement exists.
Long story short, do not have blind faith that these committees are well enough equipped to be deciding whether or not cruel animal experiments should go ahead. Members can include a random person with no interest in science or animals and animal experimenters.