Urge The University of British Columbia to Disclose Information about Their Laboratory Animals

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Originally Posted: 8 Aug 2010

Urge The University of British Columbia to Disclose Information about Their Laboratory Animals

FROM Stop Animal Exploitation NOW! (SAEN) and Stop UBC Animal Research

The University of British Columbia (UBC), one of the largest bio-medical campuses in Canada, that you demand transparency about the tens of thousands of animals they experiment on. Until now, there has been NO transparency, the public is in the dark about what goes on in their labs.

CONTACT

UBC President/Vice-Chancellor Stephen J. Toope
Office of the President
The University of British Columbia
6328 Memorial Road
Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z2 Canada
phone (604) 822-8300
fax (604) 822-5055
email

INFORMATION / TALKING POINTS

UBC is one of the largest bio-medical campuses in Canada. Each year, UBC’s Animal Care Center (ACC) distributes some 100,000 animals, including cats, pigs, mice, rabbits, rats, non-human primates and others to dozens of UBC-affiliated research projects. According to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) most recent data, the numbers of animals used in “science” in Canada have risen steadily, with nearly 2.3 million animals in 2008, up from less than 1.8 million in 1998. As the home of a rapidly expanding industry of animal experimentation, UBC is at the forefront of this trend.

Experiments in Canada are divided into five different “Categories of Invasiveness.” In 2008 nearly 800,000 animals – including cats, pigs, and non-human primates – across Canada were exposed to experiments that caused “moderate to severe distress or discomfort.” Additionally, more than 100,000 animals were subjected to the highest level of invasiveness, involving “severe pain near, at, or above the pain tolerance threshold of unanaesthetized conscious animals.”

Most notable, has been the continued use at UBC of non-human primates in neurological experiments. The rhesus macaque, an Asian species, has been used extensively in Parkinson's disease research. The monkeys are typically subjected to brain damage that models the degenerative disease and then treated with various methaphetamine and electroconvulsive shock therapies.*

*Sources: UBYSSEY, January 25, 2008, "Cruel Intentions? Animal Testing at UBC”
CCAC Table II: Number of Animals Used in 2008 by Participants in the CCAC Program according to the Category of Invasiveness <http://www.ccac.ca/en/Publications/New_Facts_Figures/definitions/definitions_index.htm>

LACK OF TRANSPARENCY

Despite the extensive research UBC is performing on animals, the university, as well as the CCAC – the agency that oversees research on animals – has provided little information about its activities. In fact, the public is largely in the dark about UBC’s experiments on animals, even though much of the research is funded by taxpayers, student fees, alumni gifts, and private donations. Though the CCAC conducts assessments of UBC’s research to ensure UBC complies with CCAC voluntary guidelines, those assessments have not been made public. Nor has critical data about UBC’s research on animals or details of procedures used on animals been released. In short, there is little transparency at UBC, giving the impression the university doesn’t want the public to know what is happening to animals behind closed doors.

SAMPLE LETTER TO UBC PRESIDENT TOOPE

Dear UBC President and Vice-Chancellor Stephen J. Toope:

I understand UBC conducts extensive research on a variety of animals, including pigs, rats, non-human primates, cats, mice, rabbits, and other animals. Much of that research is funded by the public, through taxpayer dollars, student fees, alumni gifts, and private donations. Yet, few are aware UBC experiments on animals and that some of the procedures used are highly invasive and painful.

UBC – a public institution that promotes critical thinking, debate, transparency, and freedom of speech – has been less than forthcoming about its research on animals. But the public has the right to know about such research. Many, like me, vigorously oppose vivisection because we find it ethically at odds with our values of compassion and of highly questionable scientific merit.

Information about UBC’s animal research and decisions by its Animal Care Committee should be made widely available so that prospective students, current and potential donors, and the public can make informed choices about whether to support UBC. As you may know, the US has a far more transparent system. Information, data, and reports about animal research are posted at website databases through the National Institutes of Health and the US Department of Agriculture. With that in mind, I urge UBC to post the following information online:

  • Assessment reports of UBC by the Canadian Council on Animal Care from 2000-2009, including records of non-compliance and violations issued by the CCAC to UBC, as well as UBC's responses to those assessment reports
  • Veterinary care and necropsy reports on animals at UBC for 2000-2009
  • Data on the number of animals used annually in research, teaching, and testing at UBC for 2000-2009. Data should include numbers of animals used by species, category of invasiveness, and purpose of use.
  • Copies of animal use protocols by UBC animal researchers and instructors for 2000-2009
  • Photos, videos, and other recordings of experiments conducted on animals by UBC researchers and instructors for 2000-2009

Finally, I urge UBC to pursue alternatives to research on animals as other universities have done and ultimately end all research on animals. I look forward to your response. Thank you.

Sincerely,
YOUR NAME


Thank you for everything you do for animals!