Bayvel ACD, Carsons LA & Littin KA. Severity assessment – The New Zealand experience and perspective. AATEX 2008; 14(Spl. Issue): 711-14.
This paper outlines the New Zealand experience, with severity assessment over the period 1987 to 2007, from a policy, legislative and regulatory perspective and emphasises the invaluable interaction between academia, industry, animal welfare advocacy organisations and Government, including the independent New Zealand ministerial advisory committee, the National Animal Ethics Advisory Committee (NAEAC).
Information relating to the number and relative severity of live animal manipulations, undertaken for the purposes of research, testing or teaching, is extremely valuable in relation to the high degree of political and public interest in this sensitive public policy area. The information can also be used to directly target, as priorities for Three Rs research and development, those areas of animal usage which involve the greatest animal welfare compromise (e.g. shellfish biotoxin testing and efficacy and safety testing of human and animal biological products).
The communication of information on severity assessment, as part of a policy of openness and transparency, carries with it particular challenges in terms of responsible, informed and productive media coverage. Freedom of information legislation also presents additional challenges in terms of balancing the public's right to know with the security of institutions and the personal safety of individual researchers.