Scientists aren't free to do whatever they like. All research involving animals requires ethical approval. The committees set up to give or deny such approval include members from the RSPCA, the Vet Association, and other lay members.
Don Love (Auckland University): The Animal Welfare Act spells out quite clearly who should be on the committee. There is a chair, usually someone from the RSPCA, someone from the Vet Association, someone from the general public, usually from council (a council representative or nominee) – you have a look at the Act, it spells it out – and also scientists, specialists if you wish.
The University of Auckland has got a number of scientists on it who offer thaton the committee. You might think, however, that with the number of scientists on it, it might the committee, that is, the scientist will railroad through anything they like. In fact, just the opposite occurs.
It is entirely independent. Everybody agrees to an approval. If they don’t, it’s not approved. And it’s through consensus that a decision is reached. So you have lay members on there and scientists, all as equals.