Article 66 of Law No. 18 providing general animal welfare regulations state that animals shall be free from pain, fear, or pressure, which applies to the category of animals used in experiments and scientific research. Article 82 in particular indicates that animal welfare is required to be considered in genetic engineering research.
Another legal instrument that regulates the welfare of laboratory animals is Regulation No. 95, which provides that animals shall be free from hunger and thirst, pain, injury and disease, discomfort, persecution and abuse, fear and distress. Article 83(2)(3) specifies that these principles of freedom shall be applied in such activities as transportation, caging, maintenance, and general protection of animals. Article 97 states that ways that do not hurt animals or lead them to stress shall be prioritized, as well as a clean environment, adequate food and drink that suit the psychological needs of animals shall be provided. Article 99 of the Regulation prohibits the engagement in activities that lead to unnecessary suffering for animals; mutilation of animal bodies; using the materials that cause disability, injury, toxicity, and/or death of animals; or causing animals to feel pain, fear, disability, or death.
As for the use of wild animals in scientific research, in Indonesia, Act No. 5 allows the procedure of taking animals from the wild to use them in research.
Generally, animals used in testing, research, and teaching are protected by the Animal Welfare Act.
Specifically, Malaysia issued regulations with regard to this category of animals. The Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes aims to ensure the “ethical and humane care and use of animals.” It provides that researchers and institutions are responsible for ensuring animal welfare, promoting the development and use of techniques in alternative methods, minimizing the number of animals used in experiments and research, and avoiding any conduct that would cause pain or distress to animals.
The Code of Practice provides definitions of animal welfare, animal well-being, and distress. Animal welfare is defined as “an animal’s quality of life based on an assessment of an animal’s physical and psychological state as an indication of how the animal is coping with the ongoing situation as well as a judgment about how the animal feels,” while animal wellbeing, according to the Code of Practice, is “an animal’s present state with regard to its relationship with all aspects of its environment, both internal and external” implying “a positive mental state, successful biological function, positive experiences and freedom from adverse conditions.” The term “distress” is provided as “the state of an animal, that has been unable to adapt completely to stressors, and that manifests as abnormal physiological or behavioural responses.”
The Three Rs principles are also required to be used, which are enshrined in the Code of Practice, in the procedures of using animals in laboratories. Anesthesia and analgesia are required in almost all procedures. Moreover, Section 3.4.4 of the Code of Practice lists potential behavior and physiological changes that demonstrate animals feeling pain or distress. It is prohibited to deprive animals of food, water, social interactions. Euthanasia must be conducted with humane methods, avoiding pain and distress, with the rapid loss of consciousness.
The Code of Practice is also applicable to both studies in wild and laboratory research. The former requires additional permits issued by the Department of Wildlife, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, while the latter kind of research provides that capture methods shall be of minimum distress to animals and animals’ well-being must be taken into consideration.
The country’s Animal Welfare Act applies to animals used in experiments and scientific research in accordance with Administrative Order No. 40. It is prohibited to use animals in research or experiments that were not authorized by the Committee on Animal Welfare. It also provides that euthanasia shall be conducted in a rapid and humane manner.
The Philippines has issued regulations with regard to the registration of facilities and laboratory animal facilities. Learn more here.
Animal experiments with the purpose of scientific research must be approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committees that uses the Three Rs principles in their decisions. This Committee has a duty to inspect animal care facilities at least once a year and provide the evaluation of veterinary care, environment of animals, and management.
Also, the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act allows capturing wild animals for the purpose of scientific research.
The Animal Protection Act applies to laboratory animals, but not all species of reptiles, amphibians, and fish are protected under this Act. Article 23 of the Act states that the dignity of animals’ lives must be taken into consideration and alternative methods providing that the minimum number of animals are used in experiments. Animals shall be free from pain, euthanasia must not be painful and is required if an animal used in experiments will not recover or subjected to life in pain. Article 24 prohibits using lost animals, abandoned animals, and service animals in experiments.
Animal testing is also regulated by the Laboratory Animal Act that defines a laboratory animal as “any vertebrate used or raised for the purpose of animal testing.” According to Article 5, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety is responsible for developing and promoting policies of the use of animals in experiments, as well as developing alternative methods and support education. The agency is also required to publish an annual report on animal testing.
In Thailand, Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes has been issued by the National Research Council of Thailand, which provides that “animal users should reserve the use of animals for situations of their unavoidable necessity or when there is no other available option.” Also, as in some other countries of Asia, the number of animals used in research shall be reduced and animals shall be treated “with caution to avoid stress, pain, and suffering by providing optimum conditions for transportation, animal husbandry, environmental enrichment, prevention of diseases and appropriate experimental techniques.” But the document has only an advisory character and is legally non-binding.
The Preamble of the Prevention of Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act provides that the Act is applicable to “all animals kept for usage,” thus the Act is implied to be applicable to animals used in experiments and scientific research. Section 20 of the Act does not allow animal cruelty, but Section 21 provides an exemption with regard to “any action towards an animal’s body that is deemed by the veterinary profession taken by any veterinary practitioner, or by any person who is authorised to do so without any registration and who is licensed to serve as a veterinary practitioner by the Veterinary Council in accordance with the law regarding the veterinary profession.” The provision can be related to animals used in scientific research as well.
Furthermore, another instrument that regulates the conduct with regard to these animals is the Animals for Scientific Purposes Act B.E. 2558, the purpose of which is to supervise and promote procedures on animals for scientific purposes and to protect animal welfare. The definition of procedures on animals for scientific purposes is stated as “caring, using, or breeding of, or any manipulation on the animals for scientific purposes.” A Committee for Supervision and Promotion of Procedures on Animals for Scientific Purposes is responsible for determining the guidelines on ethical treatment of animals in scientific research.
The Act in its Chapter 3 also covers the provisions on sale, import, export, transportation, storage, carcasses of animals, etc. Chapter 4 is related to the Criminal Code regarding the offenses on non-compliance of conditions that are used within experiments and scientific research.
In Vietnam, the Law on Animal Husbandry applies to rearing, transportation, slaughter, and scientific research, however, there are no specific provisions with regard to animal testing.
In 2014, Vietnam banned rabbit eye and skin irritation tests within the country.
Currently, a lot of countries across the globe use animals in scientific research, experiments, and testing for various purposes, such as cosmetics, medicine, education. Some countries have already declared themselves as cruelty-free countries eliminating animal testing for cosmetic purposes and some countries are at the stage of becoming such countries. Granted some Asian countries already prohibited using animals for educational purposes. Most of the countries adhere to the Three Rs principles and seek alternative methods in experiments, as well as reduce the number of animals used. Many countries in Asia in their Animal Welfare Act provide the regulation on handling animals in different fields, including animal testing and research, issued regulations aiming at animal welfare, however, the question of whether those laws are enforced remains unknown.
What we can do to protect these animals?
Abstain from buying cosmetics, household products, hair and skincare products with the logo on the reverse side stating “cruelty-free,” “vegan,” and “not tested on animals.” You can get acknowledged with these logos here. That way, you will save lots of animals from cruel treatment in laboratories.