The NSW government committee in charge of an inquiry on the usage of primates as well as other animals for scientific research is releasing their report, which contains 13 suggestions for the NSW Government to make urgent improvements in the biomedical industry that will improve the welfare of animals.

In December 2021, after the disappearance of three baboons employed for studies for medical purposes, this inquiry attracted an enormous amount of public attention, including more than 350 submissions written by organizations in the industry and animal welfare groups, including RSPCA Australia, and concerned Australians. While many issues need to be resolved, the recommendations are a positive step in improving the welfare of animals in this industry of research. Check out the article to learn more.

One of the most dangerous tests is to be phased out.

One of the earliest suggestions to government officials from the NSW Government was to ensure the rapid elimination of the forced-swim test and smoking tower test because of the increasing resistance and doubtful evidence of their scientific legitimacy. The RSPCA endorses this recommendation because these tests cause extreme suffering for the mice that are subjected to them, and the adverse effects on their welfare exceed any benefits to human health that are derived from these tests.

Review of the Animal Research Act 1985

The RSPCA was delighted with the suggestion to study possibilities for reform and revision in the Animal Research Act 1985, considering a range of the issues that were raised in our submission as well as in the inquiry. This includes the over-reproduction of animals for research, the necessity for pre-registration prior to publication of negative research results in order to ensure the reliability of the findings and ensure transparency, as well as shelter and care for animals used in medical research.

The RSPCA’s primary issues have been the absence of specific species-specific care and mandatory guidelines for animal welfare to satisfy the physical and behavioral demands of animals used for research, in addition to insufficient transparency about research methods and outcomes. Without pre-registration and regular publication of research results, there is no way to get an accurate assessment of the advantages of research with animals to the health of humans or how confident we are that alternatives to animals have been properly examined. The RSPCA is pleased to hear that the recommendations take action on these issues.

More resources to fund auditors as well as inspections

The need for increased transparency, national consistency in reports, and regular audits and inspections of research facilities is a major issue for the RSPCA. Without measures to ensure that the industry is held accountable, there is no assurance that they are following the most effective practices in animal welfare. The RSPCA is happy with the recommendation to have the NSW Government increase funding to the Department of Primary Industries to fund the inspection and audit duties for the Animal Research Review Panel and restore three-year audits of facilities for animal research as soon as feasible. This is a significant improvement over the prior requirement in the code of annually every four years.

Primates are not included in the recommended modifications.

Primates possess extremely sophisticated and sophisticated cognitive and social capacities. Therefore, satisfying their needs in a research environment to ensure that they are able to enjoy a healthy standard of living is extremely challenging. This is the reason that the RSPCA is against the use of primates in research. It’s disappointing that there haven’t been any suggestions to decrease the use of primates for biomedical studies at present.

RSPCA’s view:

When using animals in biomedical research is considered to be important, it is vital that the dignity of these animals be acknowledged, and their well-being is considered to be a top priority. The RSPCA is delighted to see more attention paid to improving the welfare of animals during research and, especially, the shift away from studies that have high impact with limited research benefits. Many of the recommendations in the report are consistent with the RSPCA’s call for greater transparency and accountability in research using animals, and we are looking forward to collaboration with NSW and the Federal governments in order to see them put into practice.


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