Taking in account the growing cry for discontinuing use of animals in laboratories, the government has said it is looking for “alternatives” to lab animals for drug tests.
The Union Environment Ministry at a conference said alternatives like stem or cell-culture should be used for experiments instead of animals.
“Across the world in developed countries, they have developed some protocols where animals are no longer needed for laboratory testing… If we are sensitive towards animals, then we have to look into the matter,” Joint Secretary of the Ministry Anil Kumar Jain said at the conference “Welfare of Laboratory Animals”.
The day-long event was organised by the Animal Welfare Division and Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) — a statutory panel to implement Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
The officer sought to form a committee to review technologies as alternate to laboratory animals.
“Perhaps there could be a committee to look what is the state of technology in this area across the world. To review the lab practices and to suggest the road-map for reduction of reduce of animals in labs.
“The point is not to eliminate them… India is such a large producer and exporter of vaccines and stock like that.
We have got large firms, blue chip companies doing this that is why state of technology should also be competitive at global scale.”
In India, animals including mouse, rat, hamster, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs and monkeys are used for drug tests in laboratory.
Such experiments have to adhere to certain norms like ensuring proper conditions under which animals are kept and the intensity of drugs they are exposed to.
In June 2013, India became first country in South Asia to ban the testing of cosmetics and its ingredients on animals. A year later, India banned import of cosmetics tested on animals.
India now aims to look for alternatives but the road ahead may not be easy, according to experts.