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Taiwan AR group urges closer supervision of animal testing

Taiwan AR group urges closer supervision of animal testing

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Taipei, Aug. 20 (CNA) Taiwan needs a comprehensive mechanism to supervise animal experimentation, a local animal rights group said Tuesday, pointing to the British system as a good example of ethical animal testing.

The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) told reporters that since 2002, some 10 million animals have lost their lives in Taiwan in the name of experiments, including 201,431 rabbits, a combined 4,152 dogs and cats, and 639 primates.

EAST Executive Director Chu Tseng-hung said the government needs to address five problems of management for these experiments.

The major issue, he said, is a player-referee problem because there is not enough independent oversight or inspection into experiment proposals. The current rules only require a project manager to file an application with a department of his or her own organization for approval, he said.

Moreover, the process is only a formality because alternative options to using animals in the tests are not offered, he said.

The other three problems he listed are too few professional veterinarians during the tests, a lack of outside oversight once an experiment has been approved, and no supervision of the entities breeding and supplying the animals for tests.

Chen Yu-min, a director at the EAST, also called for a discussion of whether or not animal tests are necessary.

The Council of Agriculture's Animal Protection Section issued a response to the recommendations, saying that Taiwan's animal testing supervisory system is based on the one in the United States and has been in effect since 1999.

Each year, the government conducts audits on 40 of the 220 organizations that conduct animal research based on those organizations' performance from the past year, said Section Chief Lin Tsung-yi.

Regulations require testing institutions to have a staff of 3-15 people, though organizations with fewer employees tend to have more problems, Lin said.

To solve the problem, the Council of Agriculture will give more resources to National Taiwan University's School of Veterinary Medicine and commission it to conduct the experiments on behalf of smaller organizations.

By Yang Su-min and Y.L. Kao

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