INT: News from InterNICHE
2014 was a successful year for InterNICHE and its work to replace harmful animal use in education and training. InterNICHE National Contacts and Partners worked to promote alternatives and distribute resources, to collaborate with teachers to facilitate replacement, and to share the experiences of life science departments that have already implemented progressive teaching approaches. InterNICHE Co-ordinator Nick Jukes works with all the contacts and visited a number of countries for outreach, events and meetings. A selection of news, projects and achievements from 2014, and plans for 2015, are described below.
InterNICHE Partner for France, Dr Andre Menache, participated in a round table on animal issues organised by French MP Chantal Jouanno in December 2013. Andre helped ensure that animal use in schools was kept on the agenda in 2014. The French organisation Oïkos Kaï Bios had also been promoting alternatives and asking questions of the Ministry for Education. Because of lack of clarity on the government position on dissection and of the impact of the transposed European Directive, a question was asked in parliament by the MP to elicit an official response.
The French Ministry for Education announced in November 2014 that no vertebrate animal purpose-bred for scientific procedures may be used for dissection in the school system. The ministry document states that invertebrates may still be used, as well as vertebrate animals intended for human consumption – and in France, this includes frogs. Mice and rats can therefore no longer be used for school dissections, and it should now be easier for students who conscientiously object. The Swiss League Against Vivisection (LSCV) is offering support to French campaigners.
Nick Jukes was invited by the Indian government agency that deals with animal experiments, the CPCSEA, to speak at the national conference of the agency in New Delhi in November 2014. He called for a full ban of harmful animal use in education and training. Other international speakers included Dr Jarrod Bailey on the failures of the animal model for human disease prediction, Prof Coenraad Hendriksen on alternatives within vaccine production, and Dr Christian Pellevoisin from alternative testing company Episkin.
A meeting was also held with the University Grants Commission (UGC), who fund universities and help define the national curriculum. Nick was an invited expert at the UGC’s dissection committee in 2010. Later that year the UGC recommended to discontinue dissections in zoology practical classes. In a very significant move, the UGC then fully banned dissection across the country in 2014. Anecdotal evidence suggests that half of the estimated 60 million animals killed annually for dissection in zoology may now have been saved, but there has been no comprehensive survey. The CPCSEA and several academic councils are also limiting animal experiments for specific courses at different academic levels.
InterNICHE has been working in India for over 12 years and has played an important role in the promotion of alternatives. With support from the Marchig Animal Welfare Trust, and with permission from some producers to duplicate software, alternatives to the purchase value of over € 250,000 have been distributed for free, including through CPCSEA and academic networks. However, there is still a significant shortage of alternatives in the country. This impacts negatively on the effectiveness of the ban. A project to launch wider distribution of alternatives is being developed by InterNICHE. Meanwhile, a manual on alternatives is being co-written by Nick and zoology professor Dr B. K. Sharma to support the process of replacement.
Ukraine and CIS countries
National Contact for the Ukraine, Dmitry Leporsky, continues to represent InterNICHE and German colleagues in negotiations with universities across the country. The use of contracts to formalise agreements concerning curricular transformation continues to be an effective strategy in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The documents, usually signed by the Dean, detail the animal use and agree to end it in exchange for specific hardware, software and models. The annual use of over 60,000 animals has now being replaced with alternatives, and more contracts have now been signed in the Ukraine and Russia. Dmitry also re-visited Kyrgyzstan in May-June 2014.
National Contact Dr Olivier Berreville continues to provide support and advice to teachers and students in the country, and gave a talk at the Queen’s University conference ‘Thinking Outside the Cage: Towards a non-speciesist paradigm in science’ in March 2014. The focus of the talk was the positive impact of humane education on the knowledge, skills and attitudes of future researchers. In June, an InterNICHE multimedia exhibition and presentation were organised at the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) National Conference. A guest participant from Cornell University in the US demonstrated a range of models – primarily core skills trainers – developed after being inspired by the InterNICHE / Animalearn multimedia exhibition at the 8th World Congress on Alternatives held in Montreal in 2011.
InterNICHE Partner organisation the NSPCA continues to build on the successful series of events on alternatives in education, research and testing that were organised with InterNICHE in 2012. Speakers Dr Barbara Grune from ZEBET and Dr Andre Menache contributed to this first national promotion of alternatives. Further meetings with university teachers, and with the Department of Basic Education concerning school dissection, have brought more successes since. Most universities have now replaced the animals used for comparative anatomy classes, an annual use of around 2000 animals. Interest in replacement of live porcine experiments with humane laparoscopy training devices is growing. There is also internal NSPCA training for basic veterinary procedures using alternatives. The transfer of primary care skills and animal welfare messages goes first to community campaigners and then out to the townships.
In Peru, InterNICHE Partner organisation Unidos por los Animales (UPA) continue their work for alternatives with campaigns, talks, stalls and an online presence. A successful seminar and multimedia exhibition was held in November 2014 at the Faculty of Human Medicine (UNMSM) at San Fernando. The InterNICHE / UPA Alternatives Loan System is a valuable resource for Peru, and two thirds of items are on semi-permanent loan to universities. UPA works closely with teachers and students, and at the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina (UNALM), a small student group ended the frog dissections and is undertaking a comparative study.
9th World Congress on Alternatives
The 9th World Congress on Alternatives and Animal Use in the Life Sciences (WC9) was held in Prague, Czech Republic, in August-September 2014. Nick was part of the education team and gave 3 oral presentations. InterNICHE, its Partners and other contacts had several oral and poster presentations with a replacement theme. National TV coverage featured interviews with the organisers and InterNICHE contacts, as well as some veterinary training alternatives. Afterwards, InterNICHE held a 3-day satellite meeting.
New international publications
InterNICHE is producing a major book of case studies of 100% replacement in education and training and is inviting contributions from across the globe. The publication will share the experiences of university deans, teachers, students and campaigners who have helped realise the vision of humane education and full replacement. It will address alternatives in disciplines such as anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and surgery from the fields of medicine, veterinary medicine and biology. A new film on alternatives in veterinary education and training is also being produced to address innovation at student and professional level. More international footage is being gathered, and editing will be complete in 2015.
Other news from across the world
In January 2014, an InterNICHE workshop on alternatives in education was organised at the large ‘Asia for Animals’ congress in Singapore. Humane Society International (HSI) addressed alternatives in testing, particularly for cosmetics and chemicals, and detailed progress in India and elsewhere.
In Norway, National Contact Dr Siri Martinsen continued to help veterinary students with their rights not to perform animal experiments. She also worked within the national committee on military surgery training to achieve replacement. By using the argument that the military has not scientifically proven that they are necessary, she pushed the committee to state publicly that they would not allow further experiments.
The international InterNICHE Alternatives Loan System is managed from Germany
by National Contact Dr Astrid Schmidt. Collections of alternatives are
borrowed for multimedia exhibitions, and individual loans to teachers,
students and campaigners are also common. Some are used for trial and
demonstrations, others as actual learning tools by conscientiously objecting
students during their courses. National Contacts may mentor students through
different courses; they, in turn, often involve other students, passing on
knowledge, resources and confidence to object. The InterNICHE contacts in
Germany also set up and help run http://invitrojobs.com to provide information
about ethical careers and to help smooth the transition from humane education
to humane science.
Promoting alternatives at an academic level,
particularly at veterinary congresses, continues in Iran through
National Contact Dr Ramak Roshanaie and Partner organisation the Iranian
Anti-Vivisection Association (IAVA). A new network of volunteers has now been
established across the country. Some replacement in physiology, pharmacology
and anatomy was achieved during 2014 and in previous years.
In contrast to continuing problems with severe animal
experiments across Egypt, InterNICHE contact at the Faculty of
Veterinary Medicine at Cairo University, anatomist Dr Fawzy Elnady, has
developed a new preservation method for animal cadavers. When following the
InterNICHE Policy concerning the source of the cadaver, the technique could
play an important role in replacement in anatomy and pathology, as well as in
surgery training, as preserved organs and tissue can retain some flexibility.
A presentation can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVe9j7L-eOg.
InterNICHE Partner organisation in Kenya, the African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), jointly won the Lush Prize for Training for 2014. InterNICHE has worked with ANAW for a number of years, co-organising pan-African seminars and other events. In Denmark, InterNICHE held a multimedia exhibition of alternatives at the national conference for scientists held on World Day for Laboratory Animals in April 2014. New InterNICHE Partners have recently been welcomed from Portugal, Serbia and Argentina, offering new opportunities in these countries.
Nick Jukes, InterNICHE coordinator
back to overview