Rally against animal testing of 'legal highs'

Timaru group joins nationwide protest

ESTHER ASHBY-COVENTRY
Last updated 14:44 30/07/2013
timaru animal drug test protest
NATASHA MARTIN/ Fairfax NZ

JUST SAY NO: Organiser Gemma Walker (centre) and her dog Kyzah stand beside State Highway 1 during a nationwide protest against psychoactive substances being tested on animals.

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More than 25 people and 12 dogs stood alongside State Highway 1 in Timaru today to protest ''legal highs'' testing on animals.

It was part of a nationwide protest against an aspect of the Psychoactive Substances Bill which experts say will inevitably lead to animal testing to determine which recreational drugs are safe enough to be sold for human use.

Organiser of the Timaru protest Gemma Walker said she had rallied the group through Facebook because she cared about animals and was pleased at the turnout. She said it was important for the public, as voters and pet owners, to have a voice.

Motorists responded to the group's banners by tooting as they passed.

Protesters were open about their views. Jade Stirling said plenty of people had volunteered to become test subjects, according to media reports, but animals did not have a choice.

Sally Anderson said humans could tell researchers what they were experiencing during trials and if it hurt too much, could halt the test.

''But animals are just likely to die. Why aren't politicians lining up?'' she said.

It was noted by members of the protest group that the manufacturers of the products were particularly quiet on use of animals to get their product to market.

Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Timaru manager Barry Fairbrother said there were a lot of people against the testing and he thought it was good to see the protesters expressing that. He said there were many other people who were also against it but had not publicly protested.

MP for Rangitata Jo Goodhew said she has received a number of emails about animal testing.

''In relation to testing of psychoactive drugs on animals, the expert committee has advised that, while some animal testing will be necessary initially, it intends to keep this to a minimum, with a view to reducing it progressively as suitable alternative tests are identified.''

The Psychoactive Substances Bill entered the committee stage at Parliament this month after its second reading in June. An amendment requires that animal testing is minimised and only undertaken where no suitable alternative is available.

It also requires a continual review process to identify new testing processes that emerge, Mrs Goodhew said.

Under the Animal Welfare Act 1999,  any animal research must be reviewed by an Animal Ethics Committee before proceeding.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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