Code Development Process
Role of the Scientific Committee in Code Development
The Scientific Committee reports are listed on the Codes pages (see menu on the left).
Scientific Committee Terms of Reference
It is widely accepted that animal welfare codes, guidelines, standards or legislation should take advantage of the best available knowledge. This knowledge is often generated from the scientific literature, hence the term “science-based”.
In re-establishing a Code of Practice development process, NFACC recognized the need for a more formal means of integrating scientific input into the Code of Practice process. A Scientific Committee review of priority animal welfare issues for the species being addressed will provide valuable information to the Code Development Committee in developing or revising a Code of Practice. As the Scientific Committee report is publicly available, the transparency and credibility of the Code process and the recommendations within are enhanced.
For each Code of Practice being developed or revised, NFACC will identify a Scientific Committee. This committee will consist of 6 scientists familiar with research on the care and management of the animals under consideration. NFACC will request two nominations from each of 1) Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, 2) Canadian Society of Animal Science, and 3) Canadian Chapter of the International Society for Applied Ethology. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Research Branch may also serve a role on the Scientific Committee.
Purpose & Goals
The Scientific Committee will develop a report synthesizing the results of research relating to key animal welfare issues, as identified by the Scientific Committee and the Code Development Committee. The report will be used by the Code Development Committee in drafting a Code of Practice for the species in question.
The Scientific Committee should expedite the completion of their report to the best of their ability. A report is expected to take one year to complete.
The Scientific Committee is accountable to NFACC in ensuring that they meet the requirements of this Terms of Reference.
The Scientific Committee, through its Chair, is expected to have an open line of communication with:
- NFACC, through the NFACC Coordinator
- The Code Development Committee.
The Scientific Committee will elect its own chair, and will invite the commodity or specialized industry group to assign a producer to serve ex officio. The committee is expected to operate using a consensus model for decision-making.
The committee will identify a priority list of issues (perhaps 3 – 6 items) that they consider to be particularly important for animal welfare in the species being considered, and that will particularly benefit from a review of the available scientific literature.
The Code Development Committee will follow the same process. The two committees will meet to collectively identify a list of issues for the species within the Code being addressed. Once this priority list NFACC Code Development Process March 2009 of issues is developed the Scientific Committee will write or commission reviews of the scientific literature for each of these issues. The Scientific Committee can commission a research reviewer/writer with the appropriate science background to compile and synthesize information into a report (e.g., internship).
In developing the report, the Scientific Committee should consider that evaluations of animal welfare can be based on three general overlapping types of concern: biological functioning (including health and productivity), how the animal ‘feels’ (including measures of pain and preferences), and the naturalness (including the animals ability to perform behaviours that are important to it). Veterinarians typically focus on the first, animal welfare scientists on the second, and critics of animal agriculture on the third. Much previous confusion has resulted from these different concerns being poorly articulated, and in some cases different recommendations can be derived from the same scientific findings if different types of welfare concern are considered most important.
The Scientific Committee report should be based on a broad definition of welfare that encompasses all aspects of animal welfare and explicitly describes the link between the literature, the type of welfare concern, and the conclusion. After the Scientific Committee has completed its report, the report will be made available to the Code Development Committee to ensure that it answers the questions originally posed relating to the priority issues.
The Scientific Committee will approve the review only after it has gone through a peer review process. The peer review should be as broad as is practical within the timelines allowed, and should aim at achieving a scientific consensus. Following this the Code Development Committee will use the report in developing/revising the Code of Practice in question. The Scientific Committee report will be publicly available when the Code of Practice is released for a 60-day comment period.
The Chair of the Scientific Committee will sit on the Code Development Committee. The Scientific Committee will be available if questions or issues arise in the Code development process that requires expert scientific opinion or guidance.
A Scientific Committee report on identified animal welfare priority issues within the noted species that incorporates:
- A review of research related to each priority issue
- Synthesis of research results related to each priority issue
- Some analysis of research studies to ensure the validity of the results compared to other studies (e.g., sample size)
- Summary of any consensus of the scientific body of knowledge for each priority issue, taking into consideration the different perspectives for measuring animal welfare (e.g., biological functioning, feelings and naturalness). In some cases there may not be a consensus. This should be noted too, with possible explanations offered.
- Identify gaps in knowledge and areas for further research
- Other information relating to the priority issues that is deemed important in the development of a Code of Practice