Expert Committee Recommends Animal Dissection Be Phased Out

For Immediate Release:
29 June 2010

Anuradha Srivastava (0) 9987497167; [email protected]

New Delhi – Following efforts by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India and progressive and compassionate scientists and academics to persuade the University Grants Commission (UGC) to ban dissection in college zoology courses, an Expert Committee has recommended that colleges reduce the use of animal dissection in zoology and life-science courses and work toward the implementation of non-animal teaching methods. For undergraduate students, the Expert Committee recommended that “students should not do any dissection”. While PETA praises reduction of the usage of animals in zoology courses as a positive step, the group believes the matter is too urgent to allow animal dissections and experiments to be reduced and phased out gradually instead of  immediately eliminated.

The Expert Committee was formed in January 2010 by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the UGC, and it was tasked with determining whether dissection should be discontinued in zoology and life-science courses in Indian universities and colleges. The committee is chaired by Professor H A Ranganath, director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, and has met five times since its inception. Eminent academics Professor B K Sharma, Professor Reena Mathur and Professor K K Sharma played a pivotal role in turning the decision in favour of animal welfare.

“The committee’s recommendation is a compassionate first step”, says PETA India campaigner Dr Anuradha Srivastava. “However, a teaching system that relies on animal models is so destructive to animals, the environment, and students that we encourage the UGC to call for a complete and immediate ban on animal dissection and experimentation in our nation’s colleges at all levels.”

As PETA and other organizations have pointed out to the UGC, the many non-animal teaching methods that are available are superior to the use of animals in science education. Non-animal systems – including computer simulations, interactive CD-ROMs, films, charts and lifelike models – are generally more technologically advanced than animal-based lessons, and they teach animal sciences more effectively. In many cases, the newer, non-animal methods can also be more easily adapted to students of different ages and abilities.

Research has shown that a significant number of students at every educational level are uncomfortable with the use of animals in dissection and experimentation. Using animals in classroom experiments gives students the subtle message that there is no need to consider the lives, capacities, and habitats of animals.

Dissection can also put students’ health at risk because formaldehyde – the chemical that is used to preserve animals who are killed for dissection – can cause nausea, headaches and breathing difficulties and has been linked to cancer. Dissection also devastates the environment by slashing wild populations of amphibians.

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