Marking a major shift in zoology and life sciences curriculum which was being followed in the country for over 90 years, the University Grants Commission (UGC) has announced phasing out of animal dissection for experimental purposes at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, replacing these by alternative models including virtual dissection. Animal ethics will also be included in the appropriate course to sensitise students.
The decision was take based on the recommendations of a task force set up following demands by environmentalists and animal lovers over cruelty meted out to animals during experiments in laboratories by students, and the dwindling number of species used in experiments including frogs. For both UG and PG programmes, 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. Preference shall be given to laboratory-bred animal models.
According to the guidelines which will be applicable to all departments in universities and colleges dealing with animals for teaching and learning, dissection of animals for class work is to be replaced in a phased manner with the acquisition of appropriate technology and the development of human resource for the same. All educational institutions coming under the purview of the UGC shall prescribe laboratory curriculum involving animals in such a way to be like virtual dissection; shall prescribe laboratory curriculum involving animals in such a way to be compassionate with the animals; avoid experiments on animals, wherever possible, and use alternatives in their place. Further, “Animal ethics” should be included as a chapter in an appropriate course of study. In order to sensitise students and other stake-holders, the departments shall display the highlights of the Acts in the laboratories and elsewhere. The Departments may also adopt other modalities to popularise the science and sentiments of the provisions of these Acts.