According to UBC statistics for 2011, the number of animals UBC’s researchers subjected to the highest level of unrelieved pain in that year was 59, up from 31 in 2010.
A further 83,800 animals suffered pain of undisclosed duration at the next step down: “moderate to severe levels”. This too was up from the 68,203 animals affected this way in 2010.
While UBC leads the way for other institutions in Canada by releasing these numbers, the university still refuses to let the public know exactly which species are involved, nor does their spokesperson explain the stunning increase in the overall number of animals involved – up from 211,604 in 2010 to 225,048 in 2011.
These increases actually put UBC researchers at odds with the 3 R’s – reduction, refinement and replacement of animal research. This is a system of phasing out the controversial use of animals in favour of cutting-edge, human-based approaches, and is endorsed by the overseer of Canada’s publicly-funded institutions, the Canadian Council on Animal Care.
Alternatives to animal-based research are being widely implemented elsewhere. In the field of brain research, scientists have the ability to scan the conscious human brain engaging in a variety of cognitive tasks of which a restrained and frightened animal is not capable. Stroke researchers are steadily turning away from animal models citing critical physiological differences. Parkinson’s disease cannot effectively be modeled in a rat or a monkey – while researchers elsewhere are exploring novel approaches such as RNA interference and human nerve cell-based therapies, VP of Research Dr. John Hepburn is on the record as saying that UBC has no intention of ending invasive procedures on animal brains as yet another model of parkinsonism is tried.
UBC expends much energy in developing strains of rodents intended for use in cancer research. Even their own literature notes the pain and suffering accorded to these creatures enduring lifelong tumors as test subjects in a disappointing methodology.
Dr. Albert Sabin reported that: “Inflicting cancer on laboratory animals has not and will not help us to understand the disease or to treat those persons suffering from it…. Laboratory cancers have nothing in common with natural human cancers.”(Tony Page,
‘Vivisection Unveiled” , Jon Carpenter Pub., 1997)
With a myriad of cost-effective, reliable, human-based approaches holding the promise of real cures for uniquely human situations, UBC must reassess its continued use of ineffective and outdated animal models. All stakeholders should be heard from: the researcher whose non-animal protocol is marginalized and under-funded, the advocate for humane research, the human patient, and those well-intentioned researchers whose practices if done outside the laboratory walls would be considered horrendous animal cruelty.
Stop UBC Animal Research is urging UBC President Toope to ban all Category of Invasiveness = D and Category of Invasiveness = E experiments done with UBC researcher involvement and to engage in a respectful dialogue with all stakeholders in a re-evaluation of the University's research practices.
In the U.S., current research protocols are posted online and are accessible, yet U.S. researchers maintain a highly competitive edge. Confidentiality and security concerns cannot be used as excuses to cloak animal research from public oversight here any longer.
If you are disturbed by the thought of sufferings being imposed on animals and would like to see your tax dollars reallocated to progressive, humane alternatives, now is the time to be heard.