Pashu Sandesh, 28th January 2019

Dr. Neelam Bala, Secretary Animal Welfare Board of India.

A most useful event on Laboratory Animals  was held in Bangalore on 29th Nov. 2018 and discussed the recent advances to minimize the use of  animals in experiments under patronage of the Asian Federation of Laboratory Animal Science Association (AFLAS). This event has been undoubtedly a memorable gathering of the year 2018 to sensitize Lab Animal Experts and Animal Scientists working in India so that the use of animals in experiments may be minimize by developing the alternatives. During the event, the issues of Animal Welfare for Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) was major discussion to develop alternatives. 

As evident from schedule of the Congress, the most useful discussions and presentations arranged and covered wide areas of research and issues of professional practice were illuminated with deep insight. Indeed ,this event  was a focused on theoretical , pragmatic and practical aspect of research  to  determine  the way ahead in helping humanity with desirable empathy  towards animals to ensure safety and security as per animal welfare norms.  Our country has taken rapid strides in this field in past few decades. India is the land of Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi has always strived for “Ahimsa Parmo Dharma. Our creed is nonviolence and our motto is ‘vasudhev kutumbkam’ and entire world is a family. 

We consider animals as integral part of our existence. The existence of human beings is inextricably linked with welfare of animals both domestic and wild ; small and large.  Sound health of animals and their well being are prerequisite not only for their survival, productivity but also essential in respect of animal testing. Complex procedures and process in respect of preclinical animal testing are challenging . There are legal and ethical issues involved in every step. Timely preventive and life saving measures are essentially required with skilled and experienced caring personnel . Union as well as State Governments have put in place adequate measures to prevent cruelty towards animals. 

Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 provides for comprehensive provisions in regard to fair treatment of animals in general, and  Government of India set up, under the Act a statutory Committee, namely ,’The committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals in 1991. Breeding of and Experiment on Animals ( Control and Supervision) Rules were framed in 1998, 2001 and again amended in 2006. The Committee after thoughtful deliberations and stakeholder consultations and detailed discussions prepared Guidelines and Procedure for effective Compliance. A detailed compendium has been brought out by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Government of India as ready reckoner for institutions and practitioners and concerned authorities. This has brought total transparency about the relevant rules and regulations. 

It is noteworthy that use of animals for Scientific testing has been matter of grave concern always and marked by long litigation in lower courts to superior courts ; the problems have been addressed by well laid out procedures as mentioned in regulations and violations  made severely  punishable. The committees have been empowered to revoke licenses of animal houses also. In the sphere of research and training for Biomedical, Pharmaceutical Veterinary Sciences the guidelines are like light house to steer clear of apathy and cruelty.  

As provided under the ‘Prevention of cruelty to Animals Act’, Animal Welfare Board of India was established in 1962 after promulgation of the Act, for promotion of animal Welfare in general, and for the purpose of protecting animals from being subjected to unnecessary pain or suffering in particular. Animal Welfare Board of India is entrusted with herculean task of ensuring compliance, promoting awareness, advising Union Government and issuing advisories as and  when necessary. This has brought paradigm shift  in treatment of animals in India. The Board is also engaged in creating awareness through  trainings , workshops, seminars and field visits. There are strict rules about not showing cruelty to animals in movies and other media as films require clearance from the Board before being released for Public viewing. 

Protocols have been developed with well defined procedures which has placed our Country at the forefront in this area. Also, we have some of well known Animal Activists engaged continuously with issues of animal welfare, who make us and authorities aware of new emerging challenges in the field of animal welfare. Climate Change and Pollution are growing threats to our ecosystem and animals would also need to be taken care of the consequences. 

 The objectives of the Congress and of participating  veterinarians, researchers , Animal Scientists,  Administrators ,practitioners, and Policy Makers are aligned along the  pious purpose of providing succor to the small and large animals which are used in research and laboratory tests for formulations of drugs and vaccines and to provide for the skill sets for their  use  in ethical manner and  assessment of need for use of animals for 

genuine scientific research, in innovative ways to ensure  welfare of small and large animals. This is surely one of its kind  to inculcate sensitivity towards optimum use of animals in ethical manner in consonance with the International ethos in reference to International community .  Another gray area is the use of animals in testing of beauty products . This remains in shrouds as some of the companies neither seek mandatory permissions nor reveal their practices and methods. 

Animals affected by the side effects are left and thrown off in dustbins. This is an alarming situation indeed. In case of human tastings there is recompense and also some treatment to counter the adverse effects but in case of animals even basic norms are not followed. There is optimism ,however with Companies like BODY SHOP  and their marketing strategies are based solely on premise that they do not use animals for such testing. Their soaring sales 

worldwide are glimmer of hope to animal lovers. It reflects the basic inherent human nature for protection towards animals. The World community has been devising and implementing various measures. The European Medicines Agency’s support for 3 R principle of Replace, Reduce, and Refine i.e. replacing the use of animals with non animal methods where possible; reducing the number of animals used to a minimum while still obtaining scientifically valid results ,refining practices to minimize stress and improve welfare of study animals used for regulatory purposes.

Deliberations made in the Congress will be helpful in providing new means and the intended knowledge sharing will ignite such zeal in  participants  to help out respective Countries devising  need based policies and mechanisms in livestock sector and scientists, veterinarians,  administrators, and policy makers would be enlightened and take note of rising expectations to  ensure needful course of action as delineated  by this Congress. 

The outcome shall enthuse not only the community of Specialists, experts and researchers but also have impact on practices and bring out desired change in the mindset for willing compliance and also inherent sense for protecting the animals large and small not only in participating countries but also world over. I wish grand success to this historical Congress .I am much obliged to the Organizing Committee  and especially Dr. S.G.Ramchandra from Indian Institute of Science ,Benguluru for providing me this memorable opportunity

(Summarized by Dr. R. B. Chaudhary, Media Head of AWBI ( Retd.) and Chief