Friday, 11 May 2012

Goa University: Animal dissections to be phased out

PANAJI: The Goa University has decided to form a standing committee to deliberate on phasing out animal dissections in state institutions. This follows the Union ministry of environment and forests' ban on the use of live animals for dissections and experiments in educational and research institutions.

State varsity registrar Vijayendra Kamat said, "An official standing academic committee will be formed to discuss the issue of phasing out animal dissections (in institutions). The committee meeting will be held either this month or in June, and based on the decision taken, circulars will be issued to colleges offering zoology and other life science courses."

Pointing out that MoEF's directions are binding on universities and institutions across the country, Kamat added, "Once the rules are enforced, they will have to be followed by all institutions."

MoEF has taken initiatives to introduce multimedia, computer-based humane alternatives, which will soon be incorporated in curriculums across India. Through these, an interactive virtual environment will be created to simulate several common tasks performed during dissections. Animal mannequins will also be used.

MoEF issued guidelines-based on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960)-to the University Grants Commission, ministry of health and family welfare, Pharmacy Council of India and Medical Council of India, to discontinue dissections and experiments with live animals in universities, colleges, research institutes, hospitals and laboratories.

It offered alternatives like computer simulations and mannequins. It further suggested that animals protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972- particularly frogs and fish- should not be experimented on as they are caught in the wild and their indiscriminate removal from natural habitats disrupts the biodiversity and ecological balance.

College heads in Goa are awaiting GU instructions for the upcoming academic year, 2012-2013. Sources said that in Goa, mice are bred for experiments while frogs are caught. "Once the rule is laid down it must be followed," said Gopal Krishna Rao, principal, Goa Pharmacy College, Panaji. The institute's curriculum requires animal experiments.

The MoEF directions, incidentally, are a reinforcement of the UGC's guidelines of December 25, 2011. Students at the undergraduate level cannot use animals during experiments and class work. 

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