IRISH NOVELIST JOHN Banville has called Trinity College Dublin’s use of thousands of animals for research purposes “absolutely disgraceful”.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Liveline earlier today, Banville said he was shocked to discover that animals were being used for testing within the university.
“I was passing by the gates of Trinity one day and there was a group of mostly young women protesting and I was interested,” he said.
“They said that experiments were being carried out in the college. This was a huge surprise to me and a big shock.”
In a statement today, the university confirmed that it uses animals for the purposes of biomedical research.
TCD stated that, since 2016, only mice and rats are used for testing.
A total of 3,000 rats and 21,000 mice were used in the university in 2016 alone.
“The animals in question are cared for under the supervision of a veterinary surgeon assisted by trained technical staff,” the statement said.
‘Why don’t they volunteer themselves?’
During the interview, Banville repeatedly claimed that the animals in question should be replaced by humans during the research.
If the animals don’t suffer, well why don’t they volunteer themselves? It would be much better to have a human being to experiment on than an animal.
“I’m being absolutely serious. Why don’t they conduct the experiments on each other?”
Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act, reported in the Irish Independent, show that nearly 110,000 live animals were bought by the university between 2012 and 2016 for use in biomedical research.
Banville said that, as an evolved species, humans should ensure that animals are properly cared for.
“We are the most highly evolved species on the planet. It is our duty, therefore, to take care of less evolved species,” Banville said.
“Nature is cruel, nature is ruthless. Animals eat animals all the time, but we supposedly have risen above this and we certainly should not be inflicting needless pain on innocent animals.”
TCD has a range of research projects which involve the use of animals. These included research of Alzheimer’s disease, genetics, arthritis, bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.
The university stated that any research carried out on the animals requires the prior licensing of the person and the project by the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA).
The management and premises where the animals are held are also registered with the HPRA and the university’s ethical committees “oversee the running of the unit”.