NB. No sooner had I finished this column, criticising John Key and the Government about their handling of the party pill animal testing issue when the news came through that Mr Key had announced that animal testing of recreational drugs will be ruled out. Good on him! I am especially pleased that the Government is taking the advice I gave at the end of this column. Now I am paranoid that the Government is hacking my computer, as it is hard to believe that they could have come up with such an excellent idea themselves!
Anyway, here is my now largely redundant column. Apologies to Mr Key, he has just redeemed himself. He may have acted to avoid massive vote loss but the animals that won’t be tortured for party drugs couldn’t care less about that.
Government in a spin over party pill testing.
The National Government has embarrassed itself by its inept handling of the party drug animal testing issue. It has been cringe-inducing to see normally sure-footed Prime Minister Key trying to navigate the animal testing minefield he so naively entered. It was as if he smoked all (at that point still legal) party drugs in one sitting in order to give first hand, ‘expert’ opinion on an issue he clearly has no idea about.
Mr Key comes across as a decent human being to me. I do not always agree with his views but he seems sincere in his efforts to make New Zealand a better place for its citizens. Maybe that is why I felt sorry for him as I watched his irrational, confusing and downright bizarre comments on national television about the testing of recreational highs. Clearly not informed on the issue, Mr Key relied heavily on information provided to him by his advisors who now deserve to be sacked for making their boss look so incompetent.
So what did Mr Key have to say about the testing of party drugs on animals? For starters he ruled out testing these drugs on dogs despite the Government being told by their scientific advisors that dogs were likely to be required. Then Mr Key suggested that ‘only’ rodents should be used, this despite the fact that the Government was advised that rodent-only research would not be adequate. All this advice is suspect of course; how can the testing of psychoactive drugs on rats, dogs or any animal for that matter, show what will be the psychological damage of long-term drug use by humans? Mr Key may be well aware that torturing dogs for legal highs would be problematic politically but he does not seem to recognise that New Zealanders do not want any animals harmed for the sake of a pleasure drug.
To make matters worse, Mr Key then used the infamous Thalidomide scandal to justify animal testing when in fact Thalidomide is an excellent example of the dangers of animal testing. Thalidomide was a morning sickness drug that was tested on animals but caused major birth defects when taken by pregnant women. Mr Key said that rabbits were not used for these tests but if they had been, then the birth defects would have been discovered. Then he proceeded to rule out the use of rabbits for psychoactive testing! Confused? Well I was, and so clearly was Mr Key. Later he made the unfortunate remark that if the testing on rabbits was done in China (a country where animal protection is virtually non-existent) then that would be acceptable. Does he believe that Chinese rabbits somehow have less capacity to suffer than New Zealand ones or does Mr Key subscribe to the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy?
The time has come for the Government to get its act together on this important issue. They must require recreational drug manufacturers to prove their products are safe for human use and do so without the use of animal testing. If the manufacturers cannot do this, they must not be allowed to sell their products in New Zealand. Simple.
Hans Kriek, Executive Director