New Delhi: The Union Agriculture Ministry has agreed to accept measures that will "significantly" reduce the number of animals used in toxicity testing of pesticides, animal rights body PETA India today said.
"Following a new request from PETA India, the registration committee for pesticides within the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has agreed to accept strategies that reduce the number of animals used in toxicity testing of pesticides saving thousands of animal lives," a PETA statement said.
It said that in a recent ongoing discussion to review the "Guidance Document on Toxicology for Registration of Pesticides in India", the committee agreed to allow some tests to be combined instead of conducted separately, which can significantly reduce the number of animals used.
The committee, PETA India claimed, will also allow the waiver of some tests on animals, such as those in which dogs are repeatedly fed pesticides for three months, if satisfactory existing data can be provided. "PETA India works to reduce suffering wherever we can, and these improvements so far will spare a large number of animals.
We are more hopeful than ever that future changes to Indian regulations will replace all animal tests with modern, humane options," said PETA India Chief Executive Officer Poorva Joshipura. The animal rights group said that it is "encouraged" by the progress made so far but maintained that there is more to be done.
The organisation advocated for the acceptance of validated non-animal methods for measuring skin and eye irritation and skin sensitisation that can replace cruel and painful tests in which chemicals are applied to the sensitive skin or eyes of rabbits and guinea pigs.
"The group is also urging the committee to accept a validated alternative reproductive toxicity test method that reduces the number of animals from about 2600 to 1400 because a second generation of animals is not bred.
Noting that it is critical that the committee require pesticides to be tested according to internationally accepted test guidelines published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, it said that this will help ensure that data generated in India is accepted around the world so as to prevent duplication of tests on animals.