Monday, October 6, 2008

Barbaric Animal Experiments at Trinity College Dublin

I was going to put some photos of animal exper-iments in this blog entry, but decided against it as they are just too upsetting - even the milder ones.

So I have chosen to put a picture of the tranquil, hallowed place where these 'barbaric' acts against poor defenseless animals occur - none other than my own Alma Mater, Trinity College Dublin.

I am so disgusted by recent revelations that I encourage everyone to do whatever they can to highlight this vile experimentation, to protest and bring an end to it in whatever way possible.

Presumably this has been going on for years... To think while I was swanning about Front Square, singing Early Choral Polyphony and studying my Philosophy, Theology, Music and Education there all through the 80s, that small, precious, powerless beings were being subjected to the most obscene torture and cruelty nearby!
I can hardly bring myself to write much more about this today, so I will stop soon.

Fair play to esteemed Irish novelist John Banville!

He has put all his energy into bringing awareness to this particular travesty at TCD and is currently leading a mighty campaign to stop it.

You can read more detail about his efforts here, and his original Letter To The Editor of The Irish Times here.

Now we can admire Mr Banville not only for his exquisite prose but also for his righteous indignation on our behalf in the face of the corporate medical world and its bogus claims that live vivisection, while the poor animal is conscious, is justified in their pseudo-heroic scramble for the cure to cancer or alzheimers!

Even though I lost one parent to each of those wretched heart-breaking diseases, I simply cannot condone experimentation like that - especially as there is an outside, 1 million-to-one chance of ever finding a cure that way.

Where is the Wisdom or Compassion in such an approach to caring for beings?

Banville's writing technique is famous for paying attention to the tiniest detail, and working slowly slowly in an effort to get it right - always mindful of the big picture, and the consequences of getting things wrong.

If only the misguided professors and their ambitious lab assistants were capable of doing the same.


  1. Bruno

    I can totally appreciate your concern for the suffering inflicted on animals on the name of science.

    I've worked as a vet in ireland for a number of years. I've witnessed massive progress in veterinary medicine and surgery in preventing suffering in both large and small animals.
    I could not leave your site without trying to explain certain things.

    Vivisection refers to the cutting of or operation on a living animal usually for physiological or pathological investigation.
    This is NEVER done without anaesthetics AND painkillers in any circumstances in any of Our National Colleges. I cannot emphasise this more clearly.
    It simply cannot be done. There are strict measures present at every level of research in every college and university in this country to prevent any cruelty to animals.

    Without animal testing we would not be able to treat animals for pain, arthritis, insulin dependant diabetes, fractures, skin infections, respiratory infection, cancers ..the list is endless.

    I can understand your disgust at animal cruelty.I have sadly witnessed this myself many times in my working life. I can assure you that scientists in ireland are striving to use scientific models that won't involve suffering to animals.
    We have made massive progress in this but in the case of drugs that affect more than one organ system like heart medication then simulated virtual computer body systems and cell culture based systems do not work as well as a living breathing body.

    No right thinking person can condone cruelty to animals.

    Noone who has ever taken medication or used cosmetics in any way shape or form can say they are not part of animal testing.

    please read this and respond
    thank you

  2. Dear Stephen,

    Thank you for your response
    I have only recently noticed it was there at all - so apologies for not replying sooner

    Granted we have all benefited directly or indirectly from animal experimentation

    Even animals themselves benefit by way of breakthroughs

    However, none of that argument makes it right

    The aspirational principle remains paramount.

    Furthermore, your point - though well made - about vivisection 'NEVER being done without anaesthetics AND painkillers' is troubling.

    I say this because the whole thrust of John Banville's [and my own] outcry is precisely because it is alleged that these particular experiments at TCD are being perpetrated against animals who ARE fully conscious.

    That is the point we are making here.

    As you say yourself, 'No right thinking person can condone cruelty to animals'.

    It is a widely held view that we may judge a society by the measure of its compassion.
    So much of today's world leads one to conclude that we 'modern' humans are barely beyond cavemen in the grand evolutionary scheme of things.

    Thank God for reincarnation.

    We will all be reborn according to our past actions in a future where we fully experience their consequences.

    Some will be cherished household pets.
    Some will be those who love and care for them.

    Others will imprison, murder and eat animals or - worse again - torture them in the name of science.

    Science is great - please don't get me wrong.

    But do we always have to do EVERYTHING - just because we can?

    ... go to the moon... drop the H bomb... page 3 boob jobs...

  3. Bruno,

    I'm quite shaken by your article as I myself am a student of TCD. But there are a couple of issues that I must take you up on:

    The first is that you say that there is a "1 million-to-one chance of ever finding a cure that way", refering to animal testing. This is quite a statistic! But where did you get the numbers for it? From my experience, finding a 'cure' is a long series of experiments, each bringing those involved slightly closer to acheiving their goal. Its not a simple binary 'cure or no cure' outcome. So I would really appreciate where you've gotten these figures as they could turn my view of science upside down!

    Secondly, I find it very hard to believe that with the amount of regulations surrounding animal testing, regardless of the fact that scientists are people too, that anyone could possibly get away with, or bring themselves to carry vivisection out on an unanaesthetised animal! Again, if you could again, post your references for this statement I would be grateful.

    I also think its very harsh on the arts students to put a picture of their end of college on the front of your article when its aimed at us down the far end. Especially since the Hamilton building is quite a pleasant looking building, even if it doesn't keep with the rest of the trinity aesthetic.

    Kind regards,

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  5. Bruno,

    I and a group of fellow scientists in Trinity have been discussing
    your blog with some scepticism. It has not escaped our attention that
    there are many flaws to your argument, and that of Mr. Banville. First
    of all, your claims of vivisection without anaesthetic are completely
    unsubstantiated and show that the Irish public are, as usual, eager to
    leap on the bandwagon and voice their ill-informed opinions. Animal
    experimentation is difficult both emotionally and practically for
    labs, as the caretakers in many cases get extremely attached to their
    subjects - they often take on the role of pets. This human instinct
    means that the animals would be treated well even if it weren't for
    the stringent measures laid on by the government, the funding bodies,
    and the universities themselves. Although we don't like to mention
    this, money is a major issue here - animals are extremely difficult
    and expensive to use in labs, and would not be used unless absolutely
    necessary. Science in many fields is already quite pinched for
    funding, and it is obvious that it is impractical to butcher test
    subjects for no reason.

    I should point out several examples of the lack of research and, dare
    I say it, possible outright lying that has been displayed of late. One
    example of this is when Mr. Banville announced on RTE that he had
    contacted the Trinity College "Biology Department". THERE IS NO SUCH
    THING. There are many schools and departments which can be described
    as biological but there is no biology department as such. So we are
    left with a simple conclusion - Mr. Banville has not managed to keep
    track of who is telling him what, and so his entire testimony should
    be discarded.

    As for the idea of vivisection itself, anyone who has been under
    anaesthetic can attest to the oblivion it imparts. This is the
    oblivion that these animals experience during their surgery and their
    eventual demise. Yes, that demise is lamentable, but I personally feel
    that there is nothing wrong with humans valuing their own kind over
    any other - it is natural.

    In conclusion, you and your companions in this argument are making
    erroneous assumptions and attacking a venerable institution for
    absolutely no reason, with no proof, and no real basis for your
    "allegations". The work done in such laboratories is used to save many
    lives, and the less harassment they get from a poorly informed public the better. Interest in science is always a good thing, but please check your sources and try to educate yourself before commenting on such matters.

  6. Dear Scott and Sk,

    Thank you for all your comments re Vivisection and Experimentation on Live Conscious Animals at Trinity College Dublin.

    I must say that i value the testimony and claims of those who continue to campaign and raise awareness of what goes on in the labs of TCD and elsewhere over and above that of people who read my blog then email me claiming to be TCD scientists and students.

    I do not claim to be an expert on such matters.
    My main focus is a spiritual one, as i made clear in my blog.

    I suggest those engaged in animal experimentation and vivisection educate themselves in 'the bigger picture' of life and turn their minds and energies away from barbarism, corporate pseudo-science, and largely anonymous emails defending themselves.

    If you are serious about defending the indefensible, i further suggest you move on to a greater forum than this... perhaps outside of your small comfort zone at TCD... perhaps in the national media [where this debate originated]... or at least somewhere the average person can have their say without being put down by your misplaced condecension.

    You don't do your cause any favours by saying you love animals while working towards their suffering and demise.

    Neither is it helpful to tell your opponents to educate themselves or select different photos of TCD for their blog.

    I was surprised to hear from you at all, but even more surprised you don't have bigger guns to fire across my bow than that.

    When i was a student at Trinity, we were far too busy having fun and devoting our time to life-affirming study to be sitting around discussing and emailing 'bandwagon' bloggers like me.

    How did you even find my blog in the first place?

    It's all about Buddhism and my holiday pics LOL !

  7. I am a student of veterinary medicine outside of TCD. I, of all people, would be the first to jump on your side and fight for unneccessary pain inflicted on these defenseless beings. However, it is hard for me to support such comments when, after being asked more than once, you still have failed to provide any sources at all. If your beliefs are strong enough to be stated publicly in a way that may harm the reputation of others, do you not think it prudent to have a solid basis for them? People are more open-minded than you seem to believe. You believe wrong is being done; I commend you for addressing it. But please, for the sake of your arguement and the understanding of the public, refrain from concerning people without viable evidence for cause.

  8. Dear PBL,

    Thank you for your comment.

    The Campaign against TCD is NARA's, not mine.
    It was championed by John Banville in the press.
    I wrote a blog supporting his outrage and in defense of animal rights.

    Therefore, i do not have sources to quote regarding the original claims.
    However, i quoted or linked to the details of the NARA accusation and Banvilles's letter to the Irish Times, in which THEIR sources are cited, IN MY ORIGINAL BLOG.

    Please read the blog again, see for yourself, and gain some little insight into the redundant heated debate you are trying to conduct with me.

    The phrase 'One-million -to-One' used in my blog, incidentally, is an idiom NOT A STATISTIC, and presumably does not need to have its sources quoted.
    That is also clear in my original post.

    So, you see, I don't actually HAVE an argument that needs defending or sources that need revealing.

    The point i make throughout is neither a crusade nor a nasty letter-writing campaign.

    It is a spiritual exhortation, a prayerful aspiration - older than the hills -

    May all beings be free from suffering.

    May the Wisdom and Compassion of those who inflict suffering flourish and grow.

    May we all attain lasting happiness together in this very moment.