Why doesn’t Queen’s trust you to make up your own mind?
People are increasingly questioning the use of animals for scientific research and education. Almost daily, new findings reveal that the animals used (e.g. monkeys, mice, dogs, cats, pigs, fish, birds and others) are thinking and feeling beings, just like us. This raises profound ethical questions about our treatment of them.
Moreover, the biomedical research community is deeply divided about the effectiveness of ‘animal models’ for learning about human diseases. As noted by Dr. Richard Klausner, the former head of the National Cancer Institute, “The history of cancer research has been a history of curing cancer in the mouse…We have cured cancer in mice for decades — and it simply didn’t work in humans.”
Queen’s says NO
- Queen’s has denied repeated Freedom of Information Requests for information about the number and kinds of animals it uses for biomedical research. European universities are legally obliged to provide this information. Some Canadian universities provide it on request, and UBC publishes it on their website.
- When presented with a comprehensive proposal for a formal retirement and adoption program for animal used in research, appended to a petition signed by over a thousand members of the community, Queen’s said they weren’t interested, claiming their current practice (which, though they don’t acknowledge this, means killing almost all animals at the end of experimental use) meets the highest standards of welfare. Guelph and other institutions established adoption programs years ago.
- When Air Canada stopped transporting primates for research use in 2011, Queen’s launched an official complaint to try to overturn the ban (the only university to do so). Other universities in Canada, the US and Europe are phasing out research on primates.
- When ethicists sponsored a conference at Queen’s last year on governance of animal research, transparency and alternatives, the Queen’s VP Research, Office of the Vet, Animal Care Committee and animal researchers weren’t in attendance. So much for their avowed commitment to replacing the use of animals in research.
Transparency — a cornerstone of democracy
The free flow of information is fundamental to democracy. Without access to information, open debate and democratic accountability are impossible.
Universities are one of society’s most important institutions for fostering open debate. But when it comes to using animals for biomedical research Queen’s is siding with corporate and professional interests to keep you in the dark.
They say that secrecy is necessary because disclosure of the treatment of animals “could reasonably be expected to incite others in the animal rights movement to direct harmful action against University staff, faculty, students and its property”.
Yet many other universities, in Canada and around the world, safely disclose this information, and encourage debate about the ethics and science of using animals. Why not Queen’s?
It’s not security Queen’s is worried about.
Queen’s says ‘no’ to a Retirement & Adoption program for animals used in research:
Queen’s is the only Canadian University to fight Air Canada’s ban on transportation of primates for research purposes:
- “Air Canada will no longer ship lab monkeys, but who actually benefits?”, Canadian Business, January 7th 2013.
Queen’s ethicists sponsor “Thinking Outside the Cage” conference to promote open discussion about the ethics and science of using animals for research, and strategies for shifting to a new paradigm. Queen’s biomedical researchers, Office of the Vet and Animal Care Committee members don’t attend.