Australian code 'useful model'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 April, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 April, 2002, 12:00am

Hong Kong should adopt an animal experimentation law modelled on that of Australia, according to a report to the Government by the Animal Welfare Advisory Group.

The Australian system is based on a code of practice, enforceable by law, in which ethics committees have to approve proposed use of animals for scientific purposes.

Under this system, ethics committees must include a vet, an animal welfare organisation member, an independent person and an animal researcher.

Unlike the Hong Kong law - which covers only experiments calculated to cause pain - the Australian code covers animals for 'teaching, field trials, environmental studies, research, diagnosis, product testing and the production of biological products'.

The Australian code says the use of animals should be replaced by other methods where possible, the number used should be minimised and techniques should be refined to minimise their impact.

As a second-choice option, the May 2000 report said the law in Hong Kong could be amended instead of a new law being adopted. If amended, the law should include the concepts of animal distress and suffering, as well as pain.