Friday, April 20, 2018
Last updated: 3 years ago

Stop UBC Animal Research submits petition to end types of animal testing

Photo Rick Eh/Flickr

Photo Rick Eh/Flickr

Stop UBC Animal Research has submitted a petition to the university in the hopes of ending certain forms of animal testing.

The petition, which has 21,632 signatures, requests that UBC end its most invasive animal experiments, in which the pain level ranges from moderate to severe. Some of these tests inflict pain which is “near, at, or above the pain tolerance threshold of unanesthetized, conscious animals,” according to the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC).

President of the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society of BC, and director of its Stop UBC Animal Research campaign Laura-Leah Shaw said the group submitted the petition to the university in early 2013 through Stephen Toope’s Executive Assistant, Gerald Calderon, but since then, the university has not changed its animal research policies.

“We didn’t hear back, which was disappointing. So, we felt that perhaps we need to get to [Toope] directly, and needed a greater audience to do it,” said Shaw.

Shaw presented the petition to UBC’s Senate on April 16. UBC spokesperson Randy Schmidt said the petition has been passed over to the office of the VP research, but declined further comment.

During the presentation, Shaw argued against the value of animal testing and questioned to reliability of the results it produces. She said other institutions are making progress towards more humane experimentation, while UBC is showing no signs of substantial change in the eyes of animal rights activists.

“With Dr. Gupta set to take the helm at UBC, you are at a crossroads,” said Shaw at the conclusion of her presentation. She posed a question to the senators: will the university continue to support current animal research practices, or is it time to move on to new, animal-free approaches to experimentation?

“The one regret I have about the meeting is that I didn’t point out that people should look at the petition,” said Shaw in an interview. “The comments are amazing.”

In the past, Stop UBC Animal Research put pressure on the university to start publishing the number of animals that are used in research annually, said Shaw. In 2010, UBC became the first Canadian university to publish the animal research statistics it sends to the CCAC.

“They’re cooperating in that regard,” said Shaw.

UBC student group Activists for Animals voiced their support for the Stop UBC Animal Research campaign’s efforts.

Caroline Lemieux, president of Activists for Animals, said the Animal Defence and Anti-Vivisection Society and its Stop UBC Animal Research campaign have been leaders in challenging the societal view of animals as objects.

“I think science is a lot about critical thinking,” said Lemieux. “Critical thought needs to be used to look at the use of animals in science.”

Next school year, Stop UBC Animal Research hopes to build a strong relationship with UBC administration, notably new president Arvind Gupta, to ensure the wellbeing of animals still used in research.

  • Guest

    or maybe the animals also signed the petition!

  • John Smith

    unrelated note, comments on Ubyssey need to be fixed, I can’t tell if my comment is appearing or not

  • Roberta King

    Animal testing must be stopped. We’ve created an animal holocaust in how these sentient beings are treated. It’s shameful.

    • Noughtkin

      Yeah, I felt the same way being forced to go through public school.

    • Maria

      You’re being a troll. How shameful it is to compare the slaughtered Jewish people to animals. You should see my comment below. You should be ashamed of yourself. Your cause loses all respectability and legitimacy if you’re just going to be another person calling something a Holocaust- do you even know history? Do you know what the event was about? Are you seriously equating the lives of humans to those of animals? Would you save a rat before you saved a human? Are you willing to tell patients with illnesses like cancer that they should die because we can’t do the type of research necessary to test cures or medications for their condition if we don’t experiment on animals? And are you willing to stand up yourself, or have one of your children or parents or relatives stand up and take experimental drugs to see if they kill you? If so- by all means, defend your cause. But you’re the one who should be ashamed. What you’re proposing is embarrassing, shameful, and ignorant. You don’t even understand scientific experimental design- how can you criticize it?

      Address those questions, or else you’re just someone not even worth talking to about this issue because you don’t engage. Much like Republicans in the US who just spew the same nonsense without engaging in the legitimate criticisms of their positions.

  • Anne Birthistle

    With the use of 227,362 animals in UBC research in 2012, and steadily increasing numbers of animals involved in the most cruel and invasive experiments, the University is betraying the principles of the 3 R’s (Reduction, Refinement and Replacement).

    Harvard University has announced the closure of its primate labs, while UBC has recently expanded their capacity for controversial neurological experiments on monkeys. What does UBC know that Harvard doesn’t?

    McGill University prohibits use of animals in Category of Invasiveness=E experiments, while UBC researchers have nearly trebled the numbers of animals subjected to these experiments involving “severe pain near, at, or ABOVE the pain tolerance threshold”.

    60% of the research being done at UBC is curiosity-driven, and not mandated by regulators to be carried out on animals.

    It is time for the University to put an immediate ban on protocols which involve the two highest levels of invasiveness. We are calling on President Toope to leave a legacy of compassion rather than indifference, and to press for precious research funds to be reallocated exclusively to humane practices.

  • ADAV Society of BC

    The over 227,000 animals used by UBC researchers in the last reporting year show an indifference not only to the capacity of sentient beings for suffering but to the very principles of the 3 R’s (Refinement, Reduction and Replacement of animal use).
    With Harvard closing its primate labs and McGill banning the most invasive category of research, why has UBC expanded its facilities and almost trebled CI=E use (meaning experiments that EXCEED, unrelieved and often months long, the pain tolerance threshold of conscious animals) over the past two years?
    Why do UBC’s numbers continue to climb in a world where cutting-edge, human-based approaches are leading the way in other jurisdictions?
    We call on outgoing President Stephen Toope to leave a final legacy of compassion and ban the worst of the worst experiments, reallocating attention and hard-won funding to progressive, humane research. If India can do it, why are we so far behind?

  • ADAV Society of BC

    Over 227,000 animals per year being used in UBC research shows a betrayal of the principles of the 3 R’s – Reduction, Refinement and Replacement of animal models. We urge President Toope to leave a legacy of compassion by implementing an immediate ban on the 2 worst categories of experiment, and for incoming President Gupta and the Senate to reallocate funding to progressive and humane research.
    Harvard University has announced the closure of its primate labs, McGill University prohibits
    Category E experiments that can involve unrelieved pain, and India and other jurisdictions have banned dissection in secondary and post-secondary education. Why is our flagship university falling so far behind?

    • Jimmy

      I think you mean Reuse, Reduce, and Recycle

  • Noughtkin

    Decadent and Depraved. There are so many issues that involve humans, but I guess some people feel an affinity for critters their own speed. My fav. thing to do is to ask animal rights activists who are against the “exploitation of animals” or the “factory farming of animals” if they oppose compulsory primary education. After all, humans are animals, and we did not evolve to sit in school-houses, did we? As far as I can figure, factory-farming of humans is OK because it increases their receptivity to propaganda, e.g. “animal rights” propaganda.

    Bodies _are_ objects. Just because you have a mental disorder that causes you to regard objects as having spooky properties like “rights”, “pain”, etc. does not mean such things actually exist. What is called pain is merely a physiological process that produces certain predictable convulsions in tissues, mewling, etc. Why should anymore care about that? Such care is a form of slavery—the subtext to this petition is nothing short of human enslavement.

    Humans must be free to conduct research by themselves without the interposition of busybodies. If I have purchased an animal, it is my right to experiment on it. Anyone who wishes to interfere with my experimentation is a vicious animal itself, one that needs to be controlled, as it can only stop experimentation by warfare, either psychological or overt.

  • Allison M.

    typo, it’s actually 216,320 signatures, not 21,632.

    • Jason

      you’ve also made a typo, it was actually 2.1 million signatures

  • Jonathan

    “The petition, which has 21,632 signatures, requests that UBC end its most invasive animal experiments”

    You’ve got the story wrong completely, the petition was actually 21632 people saying they don’t care about animals and Stop UBC needs to stop their whining

  • Maria

    Love the fact that they obviously got their members to come and write the same sort of comment on the page. They clearly don’t understand how animal research is conducted. Sure, lots of animals were used- but you don’t know how many weren’t used because of the rules in place, so pointing out numbers without addressing this issue makes this number useless.

    Furthermore, I think this statement in general shows exactly how misinformed and ignorant the people leading this movement are about animal rights. It would be impossible to do research and introduce medications, for instance, on the market without animal testing. I wonder how many of these people would sign up to try untested drugs on themselves to see if they get side effects. I wonder how many would do so given the possibility that the drugs might cause them to die. But we need those drugs, because we need to treat people who have terminal illnesses- illnesses like cancer. Illnesses like ALS. Illnesses like cystic fibrosis. But I bet those people don’t even understand or know those illnesses. They never address this point, anyway, or if they do they claim that you can research systemic side effects (i.e. the effects on multiple interacting organ and body systems) on cell lines or tissue cultures (i.e. isolated, non-interacting systems, or sometimes just some cells that aren’t even organized into an organ or anything much). So I wonder if these same people would tell a chemotherapy patient that they should die of their curable cancer because some mice experienced some pain when they were given this drug. I think there’s serious equation of animals=humans, and that’s completely unreasonable and irrational, because there is an obvious difference in the hierarchy of importance. If you’d save a mouse over a baby, there is something seriously wrong with you.

    Should we try to reduce unnecessary harm that comes to animals? Absolutely. That’s what the CCAC and research ethics boards and so on are for- to reduce animal use, to replace animals where they can be with things like tissue cultures. And they work hard to do this, as do researchers- because in reality, they like the animals they work with and don’t want to hurt them either. But you can’t fully eliminate animals from use in research. You can’t fully eliminate or just not study things because you don’t like that they can only be studied on primates, because there are human problems to solve, and we value humans more than we do animals (and if you don’t, see the point above- I wonder how many of these people would ask to die over an animal). Sure there are some problems- sometimes what works in a mouse doesn’t fully work the same way in a human. But often times it does, and you can draw parallels. In any case, mouse and rat research has led to many developments we have today that we use and that save lives. Research on rabbits and cows has allowed us to produce vaccines and IVIGs. But these people don’t know that, and probably don’t even know what IVIG is, probably because they took very rudimentary sciences courses, if that, and have no idea what scientific research actually even entails and how to design and run experiments. They haven’t had to design an experiment to test something that can only be tested on animals but that is important for society to know. They haven’t made those decisions because they often haven’t come across people with these life-threatening diseases that require advances that can only be attained through animal research. They would use medications and vaccines and interventions that are used to treat patients in a heartbeat if they were to become sick, and their families would be grateful for their existence because it might save their lives. So before you write these things, and before you read them and believe these people, think about this.

    • Andy W.

      So you’re suggesting that we repeat the Holocaust?

      • Maria

        That response is a total non-sequitor and totally illogical. Also, if you’re equating use of animals in research to the Holocaust, you are completely insulting all people everywhere, particularly Jewish people and those who have been victims of actual genocides. Also, are you an anti-Semite, comparing Jewish people to animals? Cause you know who did that? His name starts with an “H” and ends with “itler”. You’ve just invalidated the whole movement and proven yourself irrational and unreasonable with that comment, and there’s no point arguing with those people.

        Why don’t you not waste people’s time and actually address some of the legitimate arguments. Or, you know, make Holocaust comments and insult all people everywhere.

        • Boris Y.

          You know what else is illogical? Testing on animals for human research.