MUMBAI: The Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has banned the use of live animals in dissection and other experiments in educational and research institutions. But scientists conducting new molecular research will be exempted from the ban.
Based on the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960), the MoEF has issued guidelines to the University Grants Commission, ministry of health and family welfare, Pharmacy Council of India and the Medical Council of India to discontinue dissection and experiments with live animals in universities, colleges, research institutes, hospitals, laboratories and instead use alternatives like computer simulation.
The MoEF says that the central government is duty-bound to use alternatives to avoid unnecessary suffering or pain to animals.
It states that effective alternatives in the form of CDs, computer simulations and mannequin models are available; they are not only effective as absolute replacements for animals in teaching anatomy or physiology but are also superior learning tools in teaching of pharmacy or life sciences.
The guidelines were framed based on the duties of the Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments and Animals (CPCSEA), which has been constituted under the provisions of Section 15 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (1960).
The committee comprises seven nominees - three nominees appointed by CPCSEA and the remaining four from educational institutes.
"The animal experiments should be stopped in all institutes except for the purpose of new molecular research. Sometimes, in laboratories, a lot of work is repeated and animals become unnecessary victims. Only scientists researching on a new molecular theory can experiment on animals. In medical and pharmacy colleges, there is unwanted cruelty towards animals which can be avoided. These guidelines mention imprisonment for five years and monetary penalty," said Mangal Jain, a nominee of the Institutional Animal Ethics Committee (IAEC), which is appointed by CPCSEA.
Hoshang Bilimoria, also a nominee appointed by the CPCSEA, said the guidelines were a welcome change.
"CPCSEA should give the nominees the power to inspect animals housed in educational institutes, experimentation centres or technical laboratories without prior intimation to the institutes. Cross-checks should also be maintained through other members," said Bilimoria.