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To the editor:
The mainstream definition of the McGill environment has thus far not included lab animals or food on campus. (See, for example, "Focus on the Environment," Reporter, Jan. 27.) Yet these are as much a part of the environment as are recyclable materials and cleaning products.
With lab animals, it should be publically acknowledged that we have been bringing living members of other species on campus for many years. Even if we were to agree with the right to kill animals for research, they should be recognized as part of the McGill environment. As such, their presence and use at McGill should be both transparent and open to public discourse. This should also include any manipulation of animal species off campus by researchers. I won't deal with food issues, except to say there should be questions asked about the environmental origins of animal food on campus and the treatment of the animals.
I would like to suggest the publication of rules that apply to students who consider lab animal use unethical and who are looking for alternatives. The whole issue of alternatives should be open to public discussion on campus.
It would seem, as of this writing, that ethical issues concerning the use of lab animals on campus should be on the agenda for the Rethink McGill Conference.