After the animal welfare group Stop UBC Animal Research (www.stopubcanimalresearch.org
) pressured the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada (UBC) to release the number of animals involved in its research in 2010 (211,604 animals), UBC recently volunteered that in 2011 the number of animals in its research programs climbed to a staggering 225,048 animals.
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 used.
According to UBC, the number of animals their researchers subjected to the highest level of unrelieved pain in 2011 almost doubled from the previous year - from 31 in 2010 to 59 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 (CCAC).
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, UBC’s 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. By UBC’s own admission, monkeys involved in recent Parkinson’s disease research were so badly injured that they were killed.
UBC expends much energy in developing strains of rodents intended for use in cancer research. Even the UBC Animal Care Committee notes the pain and suffering that these rats and mice (rodents) endure.
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 numerous cost-effective, reliable, human-based approaches holding the promise of real cures for uniquely human situations, UBC must re-evaluate its continued use of ineffective and outdated animal models. The University needs to hear from all parties concerned – 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.
In the U.S., current research protocols are posted online and are accessible, yet U.S. researchers maintain a highly competitive edge. UBC should not continue to use confidentiality and security concerns as their excuse for not revealing their current and future research practices.
Stop UBC is calling for an immediate ban on the two highest levels of invasiveness. 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.
For more information, or to show your support, to volunteer, or to donate, please go to www.stopubcanimalresearch.org