TCD defends use of vivisection


TRINITY COLLEGE Dublin has denied that using live animals for medical and scientific research is a "cheaper" option.

The university was responding to complaints by animal rights activists about vivisection being carried-out in the biology department.

"The use of animals for medical and scientific research involves considerable expense," a TCD spokeswoman said.

She said non-animal alternatives did not require the same level of background support, "and as such are considerably cheaper and researchers will choose these if they possibly can".

The author John Banville wrote to The Irish Timesabout the issue last week, urging the university to stop vivisection after the National Animal Rights Association (Nara) drew his attention to the practice.

The Nara claimed a TCD staff member "basically admitted to us that the college only use animals because its cheaper".

Last night Banville pointed out that Charles Darwin had made a significant memo to himself in the margin of a notebook while preparing his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species: "Never say higher or lower".

Meanwhile, a TCD spokeswoman said the use of animals was controlled by a law which required that all such work was carried-out in Department of Health-registered premises complying with the standards laid down by a Council of Europe convention.

"In short, this requires that animals are kept in purpose-built climate-controlled buildings with space allocated to them as defined in statute.

"The maintenance of these units is done by qualified animal care technicians whose sole function is to look after the welfare of the animals. This is overseen by a veterinary director.

"The process of applying for licences requires ethical approval and compliance with policies laid down by both the college and law. All of this costs money and this support is paid for by the researchers.

Non animal alternatives do not require this level of background support and as such are considerably cheaper and researchers will choose these if they possibly can."

Meanwhile, Nara spokeswoman Laura Broxson said representatives of the association would be distributing anti-vivisection leaflets outside the gates of Trinity today.

"We are not going to stop until we get vivisection banned in this country. We are going to keep up the pressure. It's not about making things more humane, it's about abolishing it completely," she said.