Friday, 26 August 2011

UGC calls for stop to dissection of animals

New Delhi, Aug. 24: The UGC has adopted fresh guidelines to phase out dissection of and experimentation on live animals in zoology and life science courses.

In a July 8 meeting, the higher education regulator accepted an expert panel’s recommendations for immediate reduction in use of animal species for dissection and use of computer-simulated models in its place.

 Frog dissection software
The committee was headed by H.A. Ranganath, the director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council.The UGC guidelines are, however, recommendatory in nature and will not apply to medical studies. They will shortly be sent to colleges and universities for adoption.
“The UGC guidelines are recommendatory in nature. We hope the institutions will adopt the guidelines,” an official said. The minutes of the UGC meeting said the commission had dwelt on the expert panel’s recommendation “to consider discontinuation of dissection and experiments on live animals in zoology/life sciences”.
“The commission further decided that simulation of experiments be encouraged in the institution of higher education and resources necessary for the implementation of this recommendation may be allocated during the XII plan period.”

Ranganath said the panel had recommended several models for discontinuation of dissection and experiments on animals. At the undergraduate level, students would be advised not to do any dissection. But faculty could use one species for demonstration purposes.

At the postgraduate level, students would have the option of dissecting select species. But institutions would be advised to work on development of computer-simulated models as an alternative.

“You cannot stop dissection of animals in labs overnight. It has to be done in a phased manner. We have recommended different models,” Ranganath told The Telegraph.

He said the new guidelines would not affect the quality of education in zoology and life sciences. Rather, they would address concerns expressed by cross sections of the academic community and the public about torture of animals.

BJP MP Maneka Gandhi had cited the provisions of the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and sought a ban on dissection of animals. The UGC then set up the committee under Ranganath to consider if the practice could be scrapped.

The committee has also suggested that all institutions set up dissection-monitoring committees. Academic Yashpal has, however, disagreed with the UGC. “Dissection is a world-wide practice, including the US and Europe. You should not discontinue it completely but you should reduce the number of animals being used for dissection.”
Citing the example of animals being used for clinical trials, he said the practice was required to develop medicine for human beings. “Cruelty to animal cannot be the reason to ban such trials. Then you block development of medicines,” Yashpal said.

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