Vancouver - According to statistics released on Dec 6, 2013, by UBC’s Public Affairs department, the number of animals used by the University researchers continues to climb. According to a press release by Stop UBC Animal Research, during the year 2011, the University condemned 225,043 animals to their tests. In 2012, it is said that 227,362 animals were used, at a time when animal testing is coming under fire for its lack of predictive value and the superiority and increasing availability of high-tech alternatives.
With 60% of UBC’s animal research in 2011 falling under the heading of “basic research”, Stop UBC Animal Research’s scientific advisor Dr. Andre Menache sees a disturbing focus at UBC on this type of fundamental research involving animals.
“I don't know whether there are public opinion surveys in Canada on this issue, but in the European Union and the USA, most people are opposed to inflicting harm and suffering on animals for the sake of "curiosity-driven" research. It is a sad fact that this public opposition is not reflected in the ethical review process that rubber stamps these animal studies. To add insult to injury, this same public funds most of this research through its tax dollars.”
UBC’s latest statistics reveal a steady increase in the number of animals undergoing the most painful and invasive procedures. The number of animals forced to endure the next highest level of pain and distress was 74,556. This trend is expected to continue, despite a petition presented to UBC President Stephen J. Toope’s office early in 2013 calling for an immediate ban on the most invasive and painful experiments on animals by UBC researchers. Signatures on the petition exceed 20,000.
The UBC press release fails to disclose which species were used, the source of the animals obtained outside University breeding programs, and the composition of the Animal Care Committee which acts as the oversight body. The report does not address the numerous violations listed in the CCAC’s 2010 assessment which found UBC’s facilities and care of animals inadequate in several areas, particularly in the housing of non-human primates. (UBC makes extensive use of a colony of monkeys, especially in controversial neurological and brain research.)
UBC’s associate vice-president of research Dr. Helen Burt claims to be available for interviews, and Stop UBC Animal Research challenges her to explain the ongoing increase in animal use at a heavy toll on lives, operating costs and the university’s international reputation.