Court: Animal experiment needs to be reassessed
Verhulst has been in conflict with the CCD for nearly five years. Back in 2016, the committee forbade the biologist, who specialised in ageing processes, from injecting young wild jackdaws with the IGF-1 growth hormone.
He wants to see if the increased growth rate negatively affects the birds’ health. He would check this by measuring their telomeres, which are a kind of protective cap on the end of chromosomes. These telomeres get shorter as you age.
In the lab
However, the CCD banned the experiment on wild animals. The committee said the research should be done in the lab, if necessary on animals that were caught in the wild. According to Verhulst, that is impossible. ‘This research only works if the birds are also being threatened by food shortage, cold, or parasites. None of those circumstances exist in the lab’, he said earlier. He decided to take his case to court.
For Verhulst, the issue has become a matter of principle. He mainly dislikes that the CCD’s reasoning threatens to undo an entire line of research. ‘I know the Animal Experiments Committee at the UG has already rejected several experiments because they’re worried the CCD will block them.’
The CCD will be forced to reassess the application. Verhulst’s application might still be denied, but only if the CCD presents new arguments to do so.
The CCD could not be reached for comment.