New South Wales first state to ban cruel animal tests

NSW Animal Research Act amended to prohibit forced swim test and forced smoke inhalation experiments.

The Animal Research Amendment (Prohibition of Forced Swim Tests and Forced Smoke Inhalation Experiments) Bill 2023 introduced as a Private Members Bill by Animal Justice Party MP Emma Hurst has today passed is reading in the NSW Lower House after passing the Upper House on Wednesday 7 February 2024.  The Amendment will mean an end to two particularly cruel and unscientific tests used by medical research institutions and universities.

The nose-only method of forced smoke inhalation is a contentious research method used by a research group at the Centenary Institute, Sydney, in which mice are constrained in a tube and attached to a smoking machine, where they are forced to smoke up to 12 cigarettes twice a day for up to 18 weeks before being killed to measure disease indicators. The forced swim test is a behavioural despair test in rodents used to screen anti-depressant drugs, which involves placing a mouse or rat in a beaker of water and forcing them to swim, offering no escape route.

The Ban follows the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) issuing a policy statement in December 2023, effectively phasing out NHMRC funding of research using these methods on a national basis.

This amendment enacts the primary recommendation of a 2022 NSW Inquiry into animal use in medical research, which called for a rapid phase-out of these cruel tests; the Inquiry committee concluding that the harm caused by this research is greater than the human health benefits gained.

Animal-Free Science Advocacy (AFSA) has campaigned for an end to forced smoking and the forced swim test for many years and is thrilled with the passing of this crucial amendment, which will end the needless suffering of thousands of animals. AFSA spokesperson Rachel Smith says: “Contrary to claims otherwise, this ban will not only relieve animal suffering, but progress medical research, with many replacement methods in the fields of respiratory and mental health research based on human and not mice biology available. The forced swim test and forced smoke inhalation have been widely discredited both scientifically and ethically and this ban cannot come soon enough”.

AFSA calls for:

  • Adoption of the NHMRC policy by all funders
  • Amendments to state and territory animal welfare Acts to ban the two cruel tests
  • Revision of the Scientific Code for the care and use of animals for scientific purposes to prohibit the FST

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