Animal testing protests: 'Test them on the idiots who take them'

By Teuila Fuatai

People protesting against the Psychoactive Substances Act in Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey
People protesting against the Psychoactive Substances Act in Auckland. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Hundreds of protesters rallied around New Zealand today opposing a law that allows testing of party pills on animals.

Crowds gathered in Auckland, Palmerston North, Tauranga, Wellington and other centres to voice their opposition to the recently passed Psychoactive Substances Act, which allows new substances to be tested on animals if necessary.

Marchers in Auckland made their way up Queen Street, and those in Tauranga were joined by New Zealand singer Tiki Taane.

In Palmerston North anti-vivisection member and protest organiser Jenny Doyle said the support had been overwhelming.

The issue was not just a moral one, she said, but one that was also supported by scientific facts proving animal testing was redundant.

In Wellington, more than 200 people, some with pets and children, marched through the city's central business district to Parliament carrying signs which featured pictures of dogs in laboratories and slogans like: "I don't want to die for someone to get high.''

The colourful crowd, many of whom had dressed in animal costumes for the occasion, were greeted by Act Party leader John Banks and Green MP Mojo Mathers outside the Beehive.

The law passed with 119 MPs in favour, after moves by Mr Banks and the Greens to introduce greater controls on animal testing were voted down.

Helping You Help Animals (HUHA) board of trustees member Vari Nicholson said the march turnout had been "outstanding''.

The main aim of the march was to highlight opposition against animal testing for psychoactive substances.

Watch a clip of the march in Auckland below:

While more than 64,000 people had signed a petition opposing animal testing for legal high pills and submissions had been made citing alternative testing methods, the Government had not taken note, she said.

Carolyn Press-Mackenzie of HUHA handed Mr Banks a thick wad of submissions around animal testing for legal highs.

Mr Banks told Mrs Press-Mackenzie he would pass the information to Prime Minister John Key.

"Testing fun drugs on animals is obscene,'' he said.

"The drugs that we're talking about are not lifesaving drugs.

"Test them on the idiots that want to take it because there are hundreds of idiots who want to take it,'' Mr Banks said.

National MP and Associate Minister of Health Todd McClay said in a statement that any licences to test animals needed to be approved by an expert panel.

"I have today clarified with the Ministry of Health that no licences to test psychoactive substances are to be issued before the Expert Advisory Committee has completed its consideration of what constitutes a low risk of harm and the appropriateness of all aspects of a testing regime.''

A clause had been inserted into the Psychoactive Substances Act ruling out any animal testing where an alternative existed within days of receiving his ministerial warrant, he said.

He had met with animal welfare representatives last week to discuss working towards a regime which excluded animal testing, Mr McClay said.

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