Dissection Alternatives Victory
PCRM has worked for more than two decades to promote humane alternatives to the use of animals in science education. That hard work has paid off as more and more states around the nation pass dissection choice policies, and young students everywhere ask for—and receive—humane alternatives to dissection. Now the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has announced a revision to its classroom dissection position statement in support of dissection alternatives.
The new statement from NSTA, the largest science education association in the world, acknowledges the educational value of nonanimal learning methods as replacements for animal dissections and supports student dissection choice for all classrooms. And because schools often base their science curricula on guidelines from NSTA and the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT), PCRM is now urging NABT to revise its policy on dissection alternatives to support nonanimal learning methods as equivalent or superior to traditional animal dissections for primary and secondary science education. NABT’s current position states that “no alternative can substitute for the actual experience of dissection or other use of animals. NABT urges teachers to be aware of the limitations of alternatives.”
Schools around the country are increasingly using computer-based programs, including DFI’s Digital Frog, Tangent’s DryLab Fetal Pig, Neotek’s DryLab Rat, ScienceWorks’ CatWorks, and many others (including human dissection software). Fourteen states now have either statutes or administrative policies mandating student dissection choice, and others have similar measures pending.
American medical schools have also seen a rapid decline in the use of animals. As of June 2008, only eight out of 154 U.S. medical schools still use live animals to teach students. The last of the traditional dog labs ended in 2007, and PCRM is working diligently to end the remaining labs using pigs and other animals. All nine new medical schools opening from 2007 through 2009 have established animal-free curricula, confirming that the medical education standard no longer includes the use of animals. The American College of Surgeons, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, and the American Medical Student Association now actively support the replacement of animals in medical education.
With the acknowledgement that medical students don’t need to learn by using animals, nursing schools and other medical training programs likely will follow. As these postgraduate programs move beyond animal use, it will be even more difficult for college, high school, and middle school educators to justify classroom dissection.
PCRM will continue its work to promote dissection alternatives until the use of animals in education is where it belongs—out of the science books and into the history books.