Dozens attend protest against animal testing conducted by University of Sheffield
The demonstration took place outside the University of Sheffield’s (UoS) Alfred Denny building, to mark World Day for Animals in Laboratories.
A freedom of information request has revealed that the UoS held a total of 40,242 animals for research purposes during 2020, and protesters claim the university is unnecessarily choosing “old-fashioned” research techniques when there are “non-cruelty based alternatives that they could and should adopt.”
This is disputed by UoS, which claims that “we are not yet at the point where these techniques can entirely replace the need for animals in research.”
John Taylor of Sheffield Against Animal Experimentation (SAAE) took part in the protest, and said members of the public had responded well.
“The main reason we were there today was to raise awareness of the cruelty that takes place, as part of the university’s research...the research is completely abhorrent. Animals deserve to be treated with dignity and respect just like we all do,” said John.
John cited stem cell research, the use of human tissues and the bone-on-a-chip system as some of the methods that could be used instead of testing on animals.
The bone-on-a-chip system is a tiny chip containing living cells that can be used to grow bone tissue which can then be used to test new potential treatments for diseased or damaged bone.
John said this form of research is referenced on the UoS’s website, and questioned why it was not used as an alternative.
A number of similar protests have been held at research facilities across the country, as part of World Day for Animals in Laboratories.
A spokesperson from the University of Sheffield said: "As part of our efforts to remain at the forefront of medical and scientific advances, which results in lifesaving treatment for people with chronic and degenerative diseases, we conduct limited research using animals.
"This research contributes to ground breaking developments in understanding and treating major diseases such as cancer, deafness, MND, heart disease, Parkinson's and other neurological conditions which devastate millions of lives every year.
"Our scientists are fully committed to finding other alternatives to research which is currently dependent on animals.
"The University is committed to the 3Rs: replacing the use of animals with alternative techniques, or avoiding the use of animals altogether; reducing the number of animals used to a minimum; and refining the way experiments are carried out, to make sure animals suffer as little as possible. When an alternative method is available, the University is legally required to use it.
"However, we are not yet at the point where these techniques can entirely replace the need for animals in research.
"The University is also committed to openness around its animal research. We present information about our research, the type and number of animals used at the University each year, and our commitments to animal welfare and the 3Rs on our website."
"For more information please visit: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/rs/ethicsandintegrity/animal-research.”
Anyone wishing to find out more about SAAE should visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/SheffAAE