Studying The Impact Of Animal Testing Bans
In 2013, New Zealand created a regulated, legal market for certain new psychoactive substances dubbed NPS’s or “legal highs.” But manufacturers had to be able to show through clinical trials that these highs were “low risk.” After a growing number of reports of adverse effects, however, the law governing the market was amended to be even stricter. Significantly, the amended law prohibited any of the NPS’s from being tested on animals, including tests conducted overseas. The ban on animal tests for these substances came after a considerable public outcry against harming animals to test recreational substances “with no therapeutic effects.” While the ban on animal tests has been in place, insiders say that NPS regulation is unable to move forward. “It is unlikely that a product can be shown to pose no more than a low risk of harm without the use of animal testing,” authorities have said.
This study looked at a range of scenarios “to investigate strategies to overcome the impasse created by the banning of animal testing for the purpose of pre-market approval of psychoactive products.” They employed a mixed set of analyses, and came up with five decision-making criteria to help them evaluate: “(1) low financial cost to the industry; (2) certainty of product approval; (3) timeliness; (4) political attractiveness; and (5) favourable public opinion.” After analysis, they said that “a ‘modification of the animal test ban’ may be the most attractive overall solution” to the impasse. But they also note that this scenario depends on politicians’ abilities to convince the public that compromising on animal testing issue is worthwhile. As an alternative, they propose “creative compliance” by the legal high industry, with relatively lax enforcement of regulations.
This study, while specific to New Zealand, shows how public opinion can lead to a ban on animal use for something deemed a frivolous purpose. But it also shows that animal testing bans are not necessarily the end of a story. Continued pressure from both the public and animal advocates may be needed to ensure that pro-animal policies are not reversed or reduced to meaninglessness.