UBC defends animal research methods
A BC SPCA investigation into the death of four research monkeys at the University of British Columbia earlier this month continues, but CTV News has learned that so far, the animal protection association has discovered nothing untoward about UBC's research methods.
According to Helen Burt, the university's vice president of research, the Canadian Council on Animal Care has also indicated that there is no evidence to support allegations that UBC was subjecting monkeys to cruel research experiments that were not overseen by the UBC Animal Care Committee.
"We believe that all of our research is carried out in an ethical, humane way so we have no concerns," said Burt on Sunday. "Almost every medical discovery that's been made in the last hundred years essentially involves some work that would have been done on animals."
The animal cruelty complaints were made by activist group Stop UBC Animal Research, which alleged that the four macaque monkeys used for Parkinson's disease research at UBC suffered so much brain damage from the experiments, they had to be euthanized.
On Sunday, animal rights group PETA staged a demonstration in Vancouver protesting against airlines that transport monkeys from the wild to laboratories in North America. PETA was joined by Stop UBC Animal Research.
"I'm very sorry to hear that about the SPCA," said Stop UBC Animal Research activist Anne Birthistle. "I thought for once that they were really going to step up and be on the side of the animals in research and not allow highly invasive cruelty to occur."
Birthistle said there are alternatives to using monkeys for Parkinson's disease research.
"UBC will say we're doing this for the good of Parkinson's sufferers," she said. "But no, there are human-related approaches that are taking place elsewhere in the world, especially in Europe, that are showing much more promise, that are much more progressive."
UBC said the only change that is going to make to its animal research program is increasing public outreach and raising awareness about the importance of animal research.
With files from CTV British Columbia's Penny Daflos