Rights: The University of Waikato Published 16 November 2007 Download

Any New Zealand research involving animals or humans requires ethical approval.

This clip was produced in conjunction with NZBio. Since this clip was produced the Bioethics Council has been disestablished.


Brian Ward (NZBio) In terms of ethics within New Zealand, the Ministry of Research, Science and Technology has set up the Bioethics Council and they consider bioethical issues on an issue by issue basis, so over the last 12 months or so they have undertaken discussions around a number of topics.

George Slim (Ministry of Research, Science & Technology) Ethics have a great deal to do with it [biotechnology], particularly in terms of animal treatment and human treatment. So any biotechnology experiment or product has to have full ethical approval and that has to go through either, depending on the scale of the research, either a local ethics committee at the institution where its being carried out, which has got a mandate from the government, or else through one of the big national committees. So for instance any clinical trial that is being carried out has to go through the SCOTT committees [Standing Committee on Therapeutic Trials] which oversee everything that happens in that area in the country.

Liz Carpenter (AgResearch) Before we do any work at AgResearch with animals, we have to get ethical approval. So this means that there is a Ruakura ethics committee at AgResearch and we have to go to them with our application. This is a document which is about 20 pages long where we say exactly, exactly, what we are going to do. It’s really good actually because I have to sit down and go, “Right, now am I going to give the 2 mls or 3 mls, and am I going to give on that week or this week?” and it’s very, very specific about what I am going to do to these cows. And that gets read by a group of people. That group includes some vets, some people who have worked with animals in the past, and also just general members of the community who want to be involved. So … they will look at my application and they will give me feedback, and they say “Yes, that’s okay,” or “No, we want you to modify it in some way.” So before we do anything, we have to get that ethical approval.

Joanna Kirman (Malaghan Institute) There are a lot of ethical issues when you are dealing with patient samples, so we basically liaise with the community. We liaise with Māori and Pacific people as well to make sure that what we are doing isn’t culturally insensitive to the patients that we are taking the samples from. Then we have to present our plan for our research to an ethics committee. In New Zealand now there is a multi-centre ethics committee. They review our plan and let us know if it’s okay, or if we need to make amendments to it. And one thing that is very important is that the person whom the sample has been taken from is informed about what you are doing with the sample, and what is going to happen to the sample in the long term.