National Anti-vivisection Society


National Antivisection Society

Unfettered science: inside India’s animal labs


A new joint NAVS and Animal Defenders International (ADI) report highlights horrific suffering inside animal laboratories in India. The findings show graphically where the road of unfettered and unaccountable science leads.

The NAVS/ADI report is based on a dossier supplied by Maneka Gandhi, former chair of India’s Committee for the Purpose of Control and Supervision of Experiments on Animals (CPCSEA). It discusses evidence gathered by the CPCSEA during inspections of 467 laboratories in India. It paints a horrifying picture: substandard and unhygienic conditions, sick and dying animals and appalling animal suffering, as well as poor science.

We have reviewed the international scientific literature for research papers from India, and provided a critique of this work; we have also examined CPCSEA’s evidence in light of legal controls and laboratory practice in other countries. Our conclusion is that literally years of scientific research in India has been invalidated by poor scientific procedure, poor laboratory practice and lack of appropriate animal care.

Dr S. Chinny Krishna, Vice Chair of the Animal Welfare Board and CPCSEA nominee notes: “....out of the 467 laboratories which have so far been inspected by various nominees, it has been found that more than 400 of such laboratories do not have even basic facilities for proper housing of animals which are under their charge.”

After years of relative inactivity, in 1996 a new CPCSEA was constituted, chaired by Maneka Gandhi (at that time a Member of Parliament). The revitalised CPCSEA introduced a raft of regulations in an attempt to regulate the industry and commenced an inspection programme to assess science and animal welfare conditions in nearly 500 laboratories.

The NAVS/ADI report is a shocking indictment of animal experimentation in India, but also an indictment of the international research community which has collaborated with and funded these labs, and published unreliable research.


Who decides our future?

There is a vociferous lobby within the international scientific community committed to resist accountability and control. This is most notably demonstrated in the fields of genetic modification (GM) and animal experimentation where there is, understandably, public concern and a demandfor restrictions, regulation and accountability. A story in the ‘British Medical Journal’ about CPCSEA’s attempts to control vivisection illustrates the typical response from the scientific community: “Scientists accuse animal rights activists of stifling research."

In May 2002, British Prime Minister Tony Blair addressed The Royal Society in a speech entitled ‘Science Matters’. He stated: “The idea of making this speech has been in my mind for some time. The final prompt for it came, curiously enough, when I was in Bangalore in January. I met a group of academics, who were also in business in the biotech field. They said to me bluntly: Europe has gone soft on science; we are going to leapfrog you and you will miss out. They regarded the debate on GM here and elsewhere in Europe as utterly astonishing. They saw us as completely overrun by protestors and pressure groups who used emotion to drive out reason. And they didn’t think we had the political will to stand up for proper science.”

There is little evidence of this, as Mr Blair himself noted: “By any measure, our record is outstanding. With 1% of the world’s population, we fund 4.5% of the world’s science, produce 8% of the scientific papers and receive 9% of the citations."

Considering the risks posed to humans, other animals, and the environment by unfettered scientific and medical research, this was an extraordinary statement for a Prime Minister to make. Already, new diseases have been created in laboratories through cross-species transmission. Many doctors are concerned about the risks posed to the human population from pig viruses, should animal to human transplantation programmes continue. Concerns about biodiversity and environmental damage from genetically engineered plants, animals and viruses are issues not only for the scientists creating these products, but for farmers, and the whole community.

It is vital that decisions about the direction of science are made with full public awareness and consent – this is not something to be left to those with a vested interest.

Unfortunately, there is a tendency to sweep aside critical views of the scientific community as simply _’anti-science’. This is as wrong as thinking that unfettered research will automatically lead to progress and good science. The evidence presented here from India reveals dramatically the failure of self-regulation in terms of animal protection, it also shows that uncontrolled and unaccountable science is ultimately bad science.

Summary Of Findings

The report reveals a deplorable standard of animal care in many facilities. Such conditions have not only caused inexcusable levels of animal suffering, but undermine any pretensions that the research was conducted scientifically. The findings include:-

Use of animals without health or genetic background knowledge (including strays – street dogs).
Animals living in filthy, unhygienic conditions. Experiments being performed in similar conditions.
Sick and injured animals left unattended, and animals denied post-operative care. This included animals which had been blinded, severely mutilated, or with open wounds.
Some institutions had been without a veterinary official in attendance for years.
Rats and mice infected with disease, and infested with mites and tapeworms.
Horses with their hooves infested with maggots.
Rats being blinded during orbital bleed procedures.
Hot irons used to brand horses.
Unsuitable facilities, e.g. lacking in ventilation or even a water supply.
Animals severely restricted and overcrowded in small, dirty, rusty cages.
Animals self-mutilating and performing abnormal & stereotypic behaviours.
Inadequate provision of food and water.
Brutal procedures such as drilling holes in the skulls of conscious sheep and then injecting rabies virus into the brain for a discredited vaccine.
Placing live and conscious frogs in refrigerators, in order to freeze them.
Failure to identify or utilise non-animal methods when they are available.
The CPCSEA guidelines “requires that genetically defined animals should be lawfully obtained from breeders; that experimental animals should be kept in standardised, hygienic experimental conditions during and post surgery to maximise reliable and reproducible data from experiments....."

The UK’s ‘Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Animals Used in Scientific Procedures’ states: “In scientific work involving living animals, the most reliable results are likely to be obtained by using healthy animals that are well adapted to their housing conditions and, in quantitative assays or comparisons, precision is increased if those animals are uniform.”

This is reiterated in the UK government’s ‘Code of Practice for the Housing and Care of Animals in Designated Breeding and Supplying Establishments’: “Healthy animals are a prerequisite both for good animal welfare and for good science. Intercurrent infection in the animal population may call into question the validity of information obtained from scientific procedures and make interpretation of results difficult or even impossible."

These policies are repeated frequently by the animal researchers as a justification for self-regulation. Yet conditions in these Indian laboratories show the manifest failure of self-regulation – uncontrolled, the industry is incapable of providing an acceptable standard of animal welfare or good science. More damning is that papers from these labs have been accepted and published in international scientific journals when the appalling conditions in the facilities should have ensured the data was rejected as unreliable.


Our recommendations include: powers of enforcement for the CPCSEA; rigorous, independent, scrutiny of proposals to use animals in research; emphasis to be given to non-animal research proposals; an immediate ban on the use of live sheep to produce Neural Tissue Anti-Rabies Vaccine. The report has been sent to the international funding bodies involved, the Indian government, research bodies, science journals; as well as media and Members of Parliament in the UK and India with a demand for immediate action.NAVS supporters can receive a free copy of the report ‘Animal Experimentation in India’ on request.

S. Chinny Krishna, Not a Maneka creation – History of the CPCSEA, Manushi, no 132, 2002
BMJ, p1192 vol. 325, 23.11.023.

Find out about the rabies vaccine production horror

Shocking photographs from the investigation


File downloads:
File name: AnimalExperimentsinIndia.pdf
File size: 874 KB

Please note: the larger .pdf files may take some time to download, depending on connection speeds. Some browsers may not indicate that downloads are taking place.

© National Anti-Vivisection Society