InterNICHE partners in Iran win Lush Prize to replace animal experiments in education

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InterNICHE Partners in Iran jointly win 2016 Lush Prize

The Iranian Anti-Vivisection Association (IAVA) has jointly won the 2016 Lush Prize for their work to replace animal experiments and implement alternatives in education and training.

The Lush Prize is a global initiative that rewards scientists, young researchers, organisations and others for outstanding work in achieving replacement and facilitating the growth of humane science. It is a joint initiative between Lush and the Ethical Consumer Research Association, with a generous £330,000 of prizes distributed to winners across 5 categories.

Since its inception in 2012, winners of the Training category have typically comprised organisations or companies working in two related fields: first, those replacing animal experiments in the education and training of medical, veterinary and biology students, like IAVA; and second, those training scientists and technicians in in vitro methods for research and testing. For 2016, IAVA jointly won the Training prize with Kirkstall, sharing half of the £50,000 prize.

IAVA is a small but active organisation and the only one in Iran that addresses animal experimentation. It works within a very challenging environment where campaigning is not typical, and where animals, especially dogs, are often seen very negatively. With a predominantly academic membership, it has been campaigning successfully for replacement alternatives, working with veterinary and other faculties since being founded by Dr Ramak Roshanaie 6 years ago.

IAVA has held seminars and multimedia exhibitions of alternatives at universities and academic conferences across the country. Its members meet with university deans, teachers and students nationwide to demonstrate, train and help introduce alternatives. It recently held Iran’s first academic animal rights panel, and has been lobbying the Ministries of Education, Health and Science to change the education system nationally.

IAVA also addresses the use of dissection at some primary and secondary schools, and promotes alternatives in the fields of research and testing. Replacement has been achieved in a number of practical classes in anatomy, pathology, physiology, pharmacology, toxicology and surgery through the use of software, self-experimentation apparatus and the establishment of a body donation program for ethically sourced animal cadavers. The campaigners have also liberated and re-homed animals used in experiments or scheduled for experimentation or killing at a number of veterinary faculties. This usually involves buying or taking the animals with permission.

IAVA works closely with InterNICHE as a Partner organisation, and has a strong anti-vivisection, animal rights and vegan ethos. It emphasises the benefits of humane education and humane science for animals, students, teachers, the professions and society as a whole. It makes clear the role of humane education and training in preparing students for a career in humane research and testing.

The campaigners emphasise the pedagogical benefits of access to best practice education, specifically the humane learning tools designed to better meet teaching objectives; familiarisation with the range and quality of alternatives, along with the lesson that there are always creative solutions to ethical challenges; encouraging critical thinking rather than conformity to convention; obviating the implicit, usually negative, lessons of the hidden curriculum, such as teaching the ‘acceptability’ of harmful animal use; avoiding the desensitisation caused by harmful animal use; and validating and developing the emotional and ethical literacy that is so crucial to an ethical science and ethical future.

The 2016 Lush Prize Conference was held at the Royal Society of Arts in London on 10 November, with a primary focus on regulating chemical safety using cutting edge and innovative techniques. Due to the visa for an IAVA representative being declined by the British Government, InterNICHE Co-ordinator Nick Jukes gave the IAVA presentation on successes in Iran. This included a recorded video clip of Dr Ramak Roshanaie speaking about IAVA. The same was shown at the awards ceremony held on 11 November, as the prize was accepted on behalf of the organisation.

For more information, see IAVA at noanimaltesting.ir (site in Farsi) and
Lush Prize at lushprize.org

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Featured image: IAVA members demonstrating a canine medical dummy, a cruelty-free alternative to using animals in veterinary training. Credit Nick Jukes, InterNICHE.

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InterNICHE is the International Network for Humane Education. We aim for high quality, fully humane education and training in medicine, veterinary medicine and biological science. We support progressive science teaching and the replacement of animal experiments by working with teachers to introduce alternatives and with students to support freedom of conscience. Click to see author's profile.

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