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The conflict over animal experimentation in Vancouver, 1950-1990 McMillan, Robert Edward

Abstract

Since before the opening of the University of British Columbia medical school in 1950, a group of Vancouver citizens has contested the use of laboratory animals by local scientists. The resulting debate has consistently centered around questions of the cruelty and scientific value of animal experimentation. Although antivivisectionists received little coverage in Vancouver's decidedly pro-vivisectionist mainstream press between 1950 and 1980, they nevertheless caused Vancouver researchers to employ a number of tactics to foster a positive image of their animal care practices during this period. By the early 1980s, Vancouver antivivisectionists had succeeded in disseminating highly graphic descriptions of animals undergoing experimentation via local community newspapers, and in using direct action tactics to link these images with specific Vancouver laboratories. In response, medical researchers heightened their longstanding efforts to conceal their experimental practices from public view. The limited public visibility of the animal lab and the commonly held belief in the necessity of animal use for medical progress both helped to limit opposition to animal experimentation between 1950 and 1990, despite an increasingly widespread acknowledgement of the cruelty of this set of practices.

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