On behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India, acclaimed actor Rahul Bose recently sent an urgent email to Prof H A Ranganath, director of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council and chair of an expert committee established by the University Grants Commission to examine the issue of dissection, urging him to support a ban on the dissection of animals in university zoology classes and to encourage the use of virtual dissection programmes and other humane and superior teaching methods instead.
Writes Bose, 'Animal dissection is an outmoded approach to education that does little for students other than desensitize them about animal welfare issues, animals' ability to feel pain, and their own compassionate feelings.'
Nearly every published comparative study in science-education literature has concluded that non-animal methods - including computer simulations, interactive CD-ROMs, films, charts and lifelike models - teach anatomy and complex biological processes as well as or better than animal-based lessons. Also, dissection sends a dangerous message to students that animals' lives and feelings are unworthy of consideration. Research has shown that a significant number of students at every educational level are uncomfortable with the use of animals in dissection and experimentation, and some even turn away from scientific careers rather than violate their principles.
Besides its inherent cruelty to animals, dissection can also put students' health at risk. Formaldehyde, the agent that is used to preserve animals who are killed for dissection, is a hazardous chemical that can cause nausea, headaches and breathing difficulties and has been linked to cancer. Dissection also devastates the environment by decimating wild populations of amphibians.
Time Asia magazine called Bose the 'superstar of Indian Art house cinema'. His growing portfolio of films includes THE JAPANESE WIFE, SHAURYA, 15 PARK AVENUE, PYAAR KE SIDE EFFECTS and JHANKAAR BEATS in addition to parallel cinema works, such as ENGLISH, AUGUST and MR AND MRS IYER.