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UBCO Professor Joey Castricano Raises Ethical Questions on Animal Research

UBCO professor Jodey Castricano highlights some sensitive issues around the use of animals in research.  Some of her thoughtful comments are quoted in a recent article written by  Jennifer Smith of the Kelowna Capital News.  I was so impressed by the commentary of  Castricano that I had to investigate a little bit more.

When UBCO professor Jodey Castricano, whose work deals with the ethics of animal testing, began asking questions, she too was not impressed with the answers she recieved.

Castricano points to research on everything from strokes to HIV to that Parkinson’s disease research to show that there is just as much to learn from the human body as animals—if not more.

She believes people really need to question whether animal testing actually advances medical science.

“We start talking about human benefits and our minds go numb,” she said, pointing out there is very little emphasis on just how much can be learned without the animals.

The professor asked to see the facility, but was turned away because the university says the animals cannot be contaminated by having those who are not trained in how to move through the lab come through the facility.

When she asked for the tour, the facility, which is set to open next fall, was empty, she said.

“It’s really difficult for people to wrap their minds around the idea that animals are subjects of their own lives,” said Castricano.

At various points in history, women, slaves and Jewish people have all been in the same position, treated like we currently treat animals—without rights.

She contends the university is overlooking the fact that science, too, is a social phenomenon and, therefore, the very idea of animal testing should subject to moral analysis, not removed from it.

Read Full Article Here


Jody Castricano is the Coordinator of Graduate Studies for the Faculty of Creative & Critical Studies; serves on the UBCO Senate and sits on the DVC Committee for Human Rights and Equity as well as on the Senate Research and Learning Committee.  She has recently been appointed a Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics at Oxford University, United Kingdom.

Jody Castricano studies ethics and has written a book entitled Animal Subjects:


“Animal Subjects…is…a major contribution to the overlapping interdisciplinary field variously named animal studies, human-animal studies, or even critical animal studies, depending on one’s ethical and political commitments. The text is unique in that it treads a line between abstract academic and more accessible and overtly political writing. Consequently, the text will likely make people nervous on both sides of the current debates about what role, if any, advocacy should have within animal studies. On one hand, there is a fear that rigorous scholarship often suffers under the desire to ameliorate or abolish animals’ suffering and use. On the other, there is a concern that the animals of animal studies are now regarded as the next reservoir of interesting topics to tap, without any kind of accountability to the billions of non-human beings who are harmed through institutionalized animal practices. Fortunately, Animal Subjects works against the notion that careful scholarship and political weight are inversely proportional…. The insightful text demands that we confront the limitations and myriad contradictions in various schools of thought, such as ecology, sociobiology, legal discourse and philosophy among others…ground-breaking…. Hopefully, Animal Subjects is just the beginning.”

— Lauren E.J. Corman, Topia


It makes me very curious to see how those in the scientific community, who are supposedly on the leading edge of open minded thinking are still so deeply entrenched in what I would call medieval thinking. Critical thinking, in my opinion results in a logical, thoughtful, conscious review of one’s own actions and how they affect others.  It also explores many concepts and questions about our perceived truths and cultural idea’s.  Free thinking is an expansion of awareness. I would personally encourage all of those deeply entrenched in such thinking who accept unquestioningly the concept of using other beings as subject matter rather than subject beings to read her work. Perhaps if they were to begin exploring their own inner thinking and to really apply the same valuable critical thinking skills that philosophy demands, these pseudo scientists would arrive at the same ideal that many of us have:


Buddha:  May all that have life be delivered from suffering.
Louis J. Camuti:  “Love of animals is a universal impulse, a common ground on which all of us may meet. By loving and understanding animals, perhaps we humans shall come to understand each other.”
Charles Darwin: “There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties… The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.”
Leonardo Da Vinci:  “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.”
Jeremy Bentham: “The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?”


There have been men and women, great scientists and thinkers far more intelligent than those currently experimenting on animals who were horrified that men were capable of harming such innocent beings.  I think perhaps it is time to take a lesson in kindness, compassion and in depth analysis from those who have walked this path before.


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