LCQ15: Control of experiments on animals
The Budget for the 2018-2019 financial year proposes to allocate $3 billion to the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) for the construction of scientific research-related infrastructure and facilities. It has been reported that the facilities to be constructed by HKSTPC include an animal laboratory. On the other hand, according to the Animals (Control of Experiments) Ordinance (Cap. 340) (the Ordinance), no person except a holder of a licence granted by the Director of Health (the Director) under section 7 of the Ordinance (the licensee) shall perform any experiment on a living vertebrate animal which is calculated to give pain. Regarding control of experiments on animals, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the types and purposes of the experiments on animals to be conducted in the aforesaid laboratory; what measures the Government will put in place to ensure that the staff of that laboratory comply with the requirements of the Ordinance when they conduct experiments on animals;
(2) given that some animal protection groups have pointed out that the European Union, India, Israel, Norway and Taiwan have legislated against animal testing for cosmetic products, and that with the advancement of technology, the technology regarding alternatives to animal experimentation has become increasingly mature and reliable, whether the Government will (i) request HKSTPC to drop the plan to construct the animal laboratory, and (ii) introduce legislation to ban the conduct of experiments on animals; if it will introduce legislation, of the timetable; if not, the justifications for that;
(3) given that some animal protection groups have criticised that some provisions of the Ordinance, which was enacted as early as in 1963, have become very outdated, uncivilised and unnecessary, whether the Government will consider amending the Ordinance, such as extending the scope of animal experimentation under control, so that it will no longer be limited only to those experiments "performed on animals and calculated to give pain";
(4) (i) of the number of licences granted by the Director under section 7 of the Ordinance in the past five years;
(ii) of the number of licence endorsements, issued by the Director under section 8 of the Ordinance in the past five years, to perform experiments on animals for the purpose of attaining manual skill;
(iii) of the number of teaching permits, granted by the Director under section 9 of the Ordinance in the past five years, to perform experiments on animals for the purpose of illustrating lectures; and
(iv) of the number of licence endorsements, issued by the Director under section 10 of the Ordinance in the past five years, to perform experiments on animals without administering any anaesthetic, etc. to the animals concerned;
(5) of the number of licensees in each of the past five years who rendered returns to the Director under section 12 of the Ordinance;
(6) of the respective numbers of licences/endorsements/permits granted/issued and renewed by the Director under sections 7 to 10 of the Ordinance in each of the past five years;
(7) of the current number of researchers granted/issued with more than one licence/endorsement/permit;
(8) of a breakdown, by type and purpose of experiment, of the numbers for the past year in relation to (i) to (iv) of (4);
(9) whether it knows the number of animals used in experiments on animals in each of the past five years, with a breakdown by species;
(10) of the places currently permitted by the Director under the Ordinance for conducting experiments on animals, and the numbers of persons holding licences/endorsements/permits involved in respect of each of such places;
(11) of the respective numbers of occasions in each of the past five years for which a person authorised in writing by the Director (i) inspected the records kept by a licensee, and (ii) entered and inspected the places specified in a licensee's licence for experiments on animals, under section 11 of the Ordinance; among such occasions, the respective numbers of repeated inspections of such records and places; and
(12) of the number of persons convicted in the past five years for contravening the Ordinance, with a breakdown by the provisions that they had contravened and the penalties imposed on them?
Having consulted the relevant government departments, my reply to the question is as follows:
(1) - (3) The Animals (Control of Experiments) Ordinance (Cap. 340) (the Ordinance) provides for the control of experiments on living vertebrate animals. Section 3 of the Ordinance specifies that no person except a licensee shall perform any experiments on living vertebrate animals. Section 6 states that no licensee shall perform any experiment except for the purpose of the advancement by new discovery of physiological knowledge, or of any knowledge which will be useful for saving or prolonging life, or alleviating suffering, or for combating any disease whether of human beings, animals or plants, or for the purpose of testing any former discovery alleged to have been made for the advancement of such types of knowledge.
Sections 11 and 12 of the Ordinance specify that every licensee shall keep, in such form as may be prescribed, records of all experiments performed by him and render to the Licensing Authority in such form and at such time as may be prescribed such returns as may be required in relation to any experiments performed by the licensee. Section 11 also provides that every licensee shall permit any medical or health officer authorised in writing by the Licensing Authority to inspect any records kept by him during specified periods and enter and inspect any place specified in the licence for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of the Ordinance.
At present, animal experiments still play an important role in research areas such as understanding disease mechanisms as well as development and testing of new drugs, therapeutic methods and techniques. While non-living experimental techniques are becoming mature, they cannot completely replace animal experiments. In addition to issuing licences under the Ordinance, the Department of Health (DH) also reminds the licensees in writing to make reference to the "Code of Practice for Care and Use of Animals for Experimental Purposes" published by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. The Code urges people who use animals for experimental purposes to treat the animals involved humanely, minimise the number of animals used and where possible, use non-animal alternatives.
The Government reviews the Ordinance regularly in light of technological advances and relevant international practices to ensure that the Ordinance achieves its objectives effectively.
The development of the animal research facility proposed by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) aims at providing healthcare technology researchers with infrastructure, with a view to complementing Hong Kong's research activities in the field of healthcare technology. The animal research facility will conduct experiments necessary for healthcare research (such as drugs efficacy tests and toxicology studies). HKSTPC is discussing with the Government the detailed arrangements, including the scale of the research facility, operation model, and the types of experiment animals, etc. HKSTPC anticipates that only small-sized animals will be used in the facility for scientific research. The proposed research facility will strictly follow relevant legislation. We do not have plan to request HKSTPC to drop the development of the animal research facility.
(4) The numbers of licences, endorsements and permits issued by DH in the past five years are as below:
(i) 13829 licences issued under section 7;
(ii) 220 endorsements for performing of experiments for the purpose of attaining manual skill made under section 8;
(iii) 937 teaching permits granted under section 9; and
(iv) 66 endorsements for performing experiment or series of experiment without administering any anaesthetic or without killing the animal concerned before it recovers from the influence of any anaesthetic made under section 10.
(5) The numbers of returns received by DH in the past five years under section 12 of the Ordinance are as below:
|Year||Number of returns rendered|
(6) The numbers of newly issued and renewed (i) licences, (ii) endorsements for performing of experiments for the purpose of attaining manual skill, (iii) teaching permits and (iv) endorsements for performing experiment or series of experiment without administering any anaesthetic or without killing the animal concerned before it recovers from the influence of any anaesthetic in the past five years are as below:
(7) As of March 5, 2018, the number of persons who possessed more than one licence/endorsement/permit was 1 103.
(8) DH does not have a breakdown of the number of animal experiments by types and purposes.
(9) According to information provided in the returns submitted by licensees, the types and numbers of animals used in experiments performed between 2013 and 2016 are as below. Information for 2017 is still under process.
(10) As of March 5, 2018, the locations approved by DH to perform experiments in accordance with the Ordinance included academic and research units of tertiary institutions, hospitals, veterinary clinics, government departments and private companies etc. DH does not have a breakdown of the number of licensees by location approved to perform animal experiments.
(11) In the past five years, DH has entered the designated locations of 69 licences/endorsements/permits, including academic and research units of tertiary institutions, hospitals, government departments and private companies, and inspected the experimental records kept by the licensees.
(12) According to the record, no person has been convicted or sentenced for breach of the Ordinance in the past five years.
Ends/Wednesday, March 21, 2018
Issued at HKT 16:45
Issued at HKT 16:45