As a publicly funded institution, Queen’s has a responsibility to be transparent with its animal testing practices.
The Queen’s Animal Defence (QAD) group filed a request under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) in February 2014, asking for statistics on experiments conducted by the University, such as the number of animals used, their species and the degree of invasiveness.
The University denied the request and a subsequent appeal, citing the safety of its staff and researchers as a major concern.
The information requested by QAD is basic statistics that other universities — including McGill and UBC — have released. That alone should be precedent enough for Queen’s to comply with the FIPPA request.
Like any other studies the University conducts, Queen’s owes the public the bare minimum of information.
Security is a vague excuse for denying the FIPPA request.
It’s rare for even extreme animal rights groups to target individual scientists, and the request was filed by well-regarded members of the philosophy department.
If the University is adhering to the Canada Council on Animal Care’s guidelines, then releasing information will change little.
By remaining secretive, it instead makes it seem as though insidious practices are taking place, even if that isn’t the case.
QAD should be commended for seeking out this information, and for attempting to stimulate dialogue on the use of animal testing in university research.
Research that has incorporated animal testing has benefited millions of Canadians. But these benefits don’t mean transparency should be disregarded.
Basic information on experiments should be publicly available, so we can confirm the University upholds standards of animal welfare.
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