Wildlife & Biodiversity

Lethal guinea pig test scrapped by Bureau of Indian Standards

The old test, in which the animals bled to death, has been replaced by a new one that incorporates a polymerase chain reaction

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 03 February 2021

The Bureau of Indian Standards’ animal husbandry, feeds and equipment subcommittee February 2, 2021 replaced a cruel test on guinea pigs used for detecting and identifying pathogenic organisms, according to a press statement by animal rights group, PETA India.

The test was used to identify pathogens that make feed unfit for animal consumption when present. The subcommittee oversees animal husbandry, feed and equipment.

The standard Methods of Tests for Animal Feeds and Feeding Stuffs, Part 3: Microbiological Methods has instead been approved by the Food and Agriculture Division Council that is under the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.

 “The new methods incorporated in this standard are based on Polymerase Chain Reaction, which are not only very precise and sensitive but also preclude the use of guinea pigs for laboratory testing,” the foreword to the published revised standard has stated.

The old test involved injecting guinea pigs with a feed sample. If the bacterium Bacillus anthracis or its spores that cause anthrax were present, the animals endured a slow, agonising death

Anthrax is a life-threatening disease that can spread from animals to humans.

The deaths of the infected guinea pigs died took as long as 48 hours. They bled internally and their internal organs, such as the spleen, liver, and stomach, became filled with blood and fluids.  

“This progressive move will spare countless gentle guinea pigs excruciatingly painful and terrifying deaths caused by being injected with pathogens,” PETA India Science Policy Adviser Dipti M Kapoor was quoted as saying in the statement.

“We laud the national standards body for embracing this science-backed change and we look forward to working with it to replace all animal tests with superior, non-animal research methods in the Indian Standards,” Kapoor added.

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