Ahimsa and alternatives - the concept of the 4th R. The CPCSEA in India

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Shiranee Pereira , Massimo Tettamanti
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The Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA) in India is one of a kind in the world. It is a statutory body of the government of India formed by an act of the Indian parliament. This body consists of nominated members and representatives from national regulatory agencies, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ministry of Environment and Forests, national academic and research councils, premier research institutes, eminent scientists and animal welfare organisations. The CPCSEA draws its powers from the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PCA) Act of 1960 which states that the duty of the committee is "to take all such measures as may be necessary to ensure that animals are not subject to unnecessary pain or suffering before, during or after the performance of experiments on them ". With the power to promulgate its own laws to ensure the humane and ethical use of animals in research and education, the CPCSEA in 1998 notified in the gazette of India the "Breeding of and Experiments on Animals (Control and Supervision) Rules 1998". The CPCSEA is unique in that the law in itself has enabled the creation of a common platform of discussion for scientists and animal activists for humane and progressive solutions for the use of animals in experimentation. In a country that is caught in a paradox of violence and rich cultural and religious traditions, India still draws a lot of its power from the concept of "Ahimsa" (the philosophy of non-violence). This concept is also pertinent to the use of animals in laboratories. Unethical, inhumane and unscientific practices, and ignorance of the use of alternatives were the way of science until 1999 when CPCSEA became functional. For four years CPCSEA has waged a battle, rescued thousands of animals from laboratories, fought legal battles to victory, enforced for the first time in the country good laboratory practice, designed guidelines for the use of animals in the production of immunobiologicals, introduced the credo of 3R principles, trained and taught scientific personnel the credibility of humane science and most importantly brought forward the concept of the fourth R, "rehabilitation" of used laboratory animals. Today CPCSEA has made it a national policy that personnel using experimental animals have amoral responsibility towards these animals after their use. Costs of after-care/rehabilitation of animals post experimentation are to be a part of research costs and should be scaled in positive correlation with the level of sentience of the animals. This paper is about the Indian law on animal experimentation and the success story of the CPCSEA in India in inculcating the credo of 4Rs - Replacement, Reduction, Refinement, and Rehabilittuion of animals used in experimentation.

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Pereira, S. and Tettamanti, M. (2005) “Ahimsa and alternatives - the concept of the 4th R. The CPCSEA in India”, ALTEX - Alternatives to animal experimentation, 22(1), pp. 3–6. Available at: https://www.altex.org/index.php/altex/article/view/921 (Accessed: 22 May 2024).