Currently the annual conference of the Australian and New Zealand Council for the Care of Animals in Research and Teaching (ANZCCART) is underway in Queenstown.
This years conference is remarkably different as NZAVS were invited to not only attend but to give presentations to attendees. Historically NZAVS has been known to protest these conferences, but this year we had a much different, more positive and collaborative approach — going inside and actually sharing our perspective!
Our Executive Director, Tara Jackson has sat on two panels at the conference. One was on the use of the Forced Swim Test and the other was on openness — the theme of this years conference.
Our Campaign Manager, Shanti Ahluwalia gave a presentation on the funding of animal research and how this can be better allocated.
At the conference today, something unique happened - an Animal Research Openness Agreement was launched!
New Zealand will be the first country outside Europe with an animal research openness agreement. Over 20 institutes that use animal for research, testing or teaching purposes have signed this, agreeing to be more open with how they use animals.
This is a promising first step towards this well hidden industry becoming more transparent. But it is very much a first step, by no means is it a final step!
What does the openness agreement actually mean?
In short, this is not a legally binding agreement. It is a set of guidelines encouraging institutes to be more open with how they use animals. The true extent of its impact will be measured in time as this is the only way we will be able to see how open institutes are truly willing to be. There is a big difference between a PR exercise to get the public on board, and genuinely allowing the public full access to know what is going on.
The fact that we have been invited in to talk with this community is a good sign — there is surprisingly some common ground between those of us actively working to end animal experimentation and some of those directly involved with animal-based research. It is in the best interest of animals used in science that we focus on these common areas and work with institutes to make as many improvements as possible (along side our other important work of course!).
Ultimately every step towards openness is a good thing. A lot of horrific things that happen to animals in experiments are only allowed because no one knows about them.
To us, the conference has been a great success in that we've been able to speak to and share our important perspective with people we don't usually have access to.
We look forward to updating you further soon!