Win for best practice on animal testing

It has been a busy few days. We broke a story that made it to the front page of the Sunday Star Times about party pills being tested for safety on dogs.  In response to the resulting public reaction, Peter Dunne put out a statement ruling out the LD50 test which is illegal in the UK because it’s so inhumane.

That was great,  but we what we really need to see is a more systematic approach to reducing animal testing, not just for party pills, but also for all drugs.

Yesterday I asked Dunne about it in the house and he assured me that he has “directed the Ministry of Health to develop a regulatory regime consistent with international best practice and avoiding animal testing wherever possible.”

For the sake of the animals involved, I am relieved that he has made this commitment, but concerned that that this approach was not taken from the start. You can read the original advice documents here and here.

I hope that the Ministry’s look at best practice will use resources from places like the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s centre for alternatives to animal testing. I also hope that it will take into account the UK ban on animal testing on alcohol and tobacco. That sets a great precedent that we should not cause considerable suffering to animals in order to get products on our shelves that are recreational at best, and dangerous at worst.

This is a complex argument which Peter Dunne didn’t help by saying that the Green Party has an “unrelenting pro-drug history” and that we “have never met a drug they didn’t like and attempted to support through Parliament”.

He should take a long hard look at his own stance towards alcohol and tobacco control compared with ours. We are very supportive of strong regulation for these drugs, including tough alcohol control, just as we will support good regulation for party pills.

The Greens have a commitment to provide a voice for animals in Parliament, and as the animal welfare spokesperson it was my responsibility to bring this issue up. I am glad that it looks like we are going to achieve a better, more ethical testing regime as a result.

4 Comments Posted

  1. Good post Mojo. If we cast our memories to a different age I remember R.C. Liley in his book The Center of the Cyclone insisting that researchers themselves should have the guts to be the guinney pig. I must say Dr. Liley practiced what he preached when experimenting on LSD floating in sensory deprivation tanks. He did however pay a price. These researchers already know the chemicals in party pills don’t they??? So why use animals?

  2. Underneath the serious business of animal testing, there is a line of humour in what Peter Dunne says.

    He wants recreational drugs (but not alcohol, strangely) tested for safety, and we don’t want to use animals, as that’s bad bad bad. However, there are many folks who will happily volunteer to test recreational drugs. Why don’t we just take them up on their offers…?

  3. Great step.
    How about insisting that all new drugs be tested only on prisoners sentenced to preventative detention or life inprisonment? That would make such people useful.

  4. Good onya Mojo

    Interestingly there was a doco on TV3 last evening ‘High Time ?’ about the wider issue of drug law & the law comm. review in 2011. Almost unanimously the speakers (including doctors, councellors, Law comm.spokesperson, retired police) supported law reform (especially medicinal use of cannabis) BUT this Govt. are effectively ignoring it..
    If they addressed this issue around ‘natural cannabis’ they may find that this issue of ‘synthetic drugs’ all but disappear.
    Cannabis has been used legally & illegally for thousands of years & any testing (on animals) is unnecassary..


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