Campaign to stop animal test requirement
The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society has launched a campaign to stop government support of an animal test that leaves rabbits with irritated eyes - so severly in some cases the animals have to be killed.
The acute toxicity test, known as the Draize test, is used to assess eye and skin irritation and is normally done on albino rabbits.
Currently the regulations under the Hazardous Substances Act require data from the Draize test for any hazardous substance used in New Zealand.
The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) campaign manager Tara Jackson said it was unknown whether the actual tests were carried out in New Zealand.
However, the requirement for potentially hazardous substances used in the country to undergo Draize testing was outdated, Jackson said.
If the eye irritation caused by the test was not too severe or did not do permanent damage the rabbit, it would undergo a washing out period before being used for further tests.
If the reaction was severe or damaged the rabbit it would be euthanised, she said.
NZAVS was calling for the government to remove the requirement to have Draize data on substances used in New Zealand.
Nick Smith, the Minister for the Environment has already been approached by NZAVS but was yet to give a full response on the issue.
NZAVS are lobbying politicians, raising awareness of the Draize test to the public and have now launched a petition to Parliament.
"We are hoping that once people find out that New Zealand is still supporting such a cruel, unreliable and outdated test, they will be encouraged to join the campaign and help us build a voice too loud for the government to ignore," Jackson said.
"From the anatomical and physiological differences that exist between humans and rabbits to the subjective nature of the test results, the Draize test has countless flaws. One of the most concerning is that the skin irritation and corrosion test is over 70 years old and has never actually been formally validated," Jackson said.
Non-animal tests were available and some were already validated by the OECD and are approved for use by New Zealand's Environmental Protection Authority, she said.
These tests included human cell and tissue models, isolated eye and cornea tests as well as computer modelling.
Jackson said Draize testing was not an "in-your-face issue" and the New Zealand public needed to be made aware of the practice.
NZAVS was working to gather more information on where the testing was carried out, she said.
Smith did not respond to media requests for comments on the issue.
The campaign comes after the government's announcement that it would ban the animal testing of cosmetics.