UGC has issued guidelines, wherein, dissection of animals at universities' labs will be prohibited and replaced with alternative means of studying
The Apex regulatory body for higher education in the country, University Grants Commission (UGC), in a bid to save animals, has issued guidelines to the respective universities across the states to end dissection and animal experimentation in the undergraduate and post-graduate Zoology and Life Sciences courses.
Giving in to the long-pending demand of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to stop dissection of animals at universities for their practicals, the commission has published the guidelines on its website to stop the practice.
UGC secretary Dr Niloufer Kazmi said, "It is basically for the undergraduates and with specifications for the post-graduates that they don't use animals for experimentation. Since universities are autonomous, we cannot enforce the directions on them, it is not mandatory. But the guidelines have to be followed."
In addition, universities will be informed that they must also adhere to the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, which prohibits the killing of amphibians and certain insects, and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960. Soon undergraduate students will no longer be required to dissect animals, and dissection will be optional for postgraduate students.
The Delhi University office, however, has not received the notification yet. Speaking on the issue, vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh said, "It is a crucial matter wherein it is best to listen to the advisories. We will keep in mind the UGC's decision. But it has to go through a discussion in the Academic Council (AC) and other administrative authorities."
Alternatives to be used
Every year, frogs, mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits suffer and die for university laboratories. UGC's panel of experts agree with the findings of the comparative study in science-education literature, the non-animal methods - including computer simulations, interactive CD-ROMs, films, charts and life-like models--that can teach anatomy and complex biological processes well.
Meanwhile, dissection will be replaced by modern technology, as according to the PETA India Science Policy advisor Dr Chaitanya Koduri, by eliminating animal dissection and phasing out animal experimentation, India's top university governing body will make sure that students use the most modern education tools possible, meaning computer models over animals.
Guidelines at a glance
The guidelines also include, for both UG and PG programs, that there will be reduction in the number of animals for dissection and experimentation as well as in the number of species, with all ethical considerations. reference will be given to laboratory bred animal models. For UG students, only one species is to be adopted for demonstration purpose by the faculty and students will not perform any dissection. Curriculum must be developed to encourage students to take up field work. For PG, students will have the option to perform dissection of 'selected species' as per the curriculum or to have a project related to biodiversity/biosystematics, etc.