Tell The Truth About Animal Testing


Group demands UBC lift 'veil of secrecy' around animal testing

A group of 60 animal advocacy groups across Canada, the U.S. and Europe sent a letter today to the University of British Columbia demanding "its veil of secrecy surrounding animal research" be lifted.

Approximately 100,000 animals are subjected to research experimentation at UBC, but the public has no way of accessing up-to-date information about them, said Brian Vincent, who is with Stop UBC Animal Research, a group of about 300 volunteers that began its work in February. "Our ultimate goal is to end animal research at UBC. We are trying to find out information about the UBC program now but in Canada much of that information is hidden from the public," he said.

"UBC must lift its veil of secrecy surrounding animal research. Since much of UBC's animal research is funded by taxpayers, the public has a right to know what the university is doing to animals with public money."

In the letter to UBC, the group -- led by Stop UBC Animal Research, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, National Anti-Vivisection Society, Animal Alliance of Canada, Animal Defenders International, Born Free USA, In Defense of Animals, International Network for Humane Education, Liberation BC and the Vancouver Humane Society -- urged UBC to provide details about its animal research program, such as the exact numbers and species of animals used, research protocols, any reports of UBC noncompliance with animal care guidelines, and photo and video documentation of animal experiments.

"UBC's lack of transparency to date has given the impression it does not want the public to see what researchers are doing to animals privately," the letter states.

Vincent said the group was able to learn from a 2008 article in the student newspaper that approximately 100,000 animals were distributed to researchers at UBC -- a figure provided by UBC officials. Vincent said while the university claims the information is publicly available, the only information is in published studies, which are not current and do not always contain information on research methods used. He said the U.S. has a far more transparent system.

For instance, the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture post comprehensive information about animal experiments online, allowing for public scrutiny of university research.

"It's time for animal experimentation at UBC to come out of the closet," said Debra Probert, executive director of the Vancouver Humane Society, in a news release. "Society has a right and an obligation to make informed decisions about how far scientists ought to be able to go when using animals in research. With the limited and cryptic information that is presently available to the public, this is impossible."

"Why is UBC so defensive about their animal research?" asked Liz White, director of the Animal Alliance of Canada, in the same release.

"What have they got to hide?"

By Kim Pemberton,© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


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