Bioethics in India: Proceedings of the International Bioethics Workshop in Madras: Biomanagement of Biogeoresources, 16-19 Jan. 1997, University of Madras; Editors: Jayapaul Azariah, Hilda Azariah, & Darryl R.J. Macer, Copyright Eubios Ethics Institute 1997.
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44. Aspects of altruistic behaviour in parent pigeons

K.B. Shenoy and S.N. Hegde
Department of Applied Zoology, Mangalore University, Mangalagangothri 574 199


Domestic pigeons (Columba livia) are monogamous and are known for biparental care of eggs and young ones. During incubation, the investment of time per day by the female parent (18 h) far exceeds that of the male counterpart (6 h). The female incubates the eggs throughout the night hours (i.e. 17.30 h to 9.30 h) and will not leave the nest until she finds the mate to take over. Moreover, whenever the male was found wanting in incubating the eggs, the female assumes the responsibility promptly. In biparental brooding of the young, the time spent by the female was three times (18 h) that by the male (6 h). When isolated and compelled to undertake uniparental brooding (by a glass partition that permits the sighting of the partner confined on the other side), the female increased the time only by 3 h, whereas the male did so by 10 h. Incubation of alien eggs and brooding and feeding of squabs by foster parents suggest that pigeons cannot distinguish their own eggs from those of other birds. If compelled, the birds could revert from brooding to incubation state. The proportion of grains in the pigeon milk is so regulated by the parent pigeons that the young squabs are saved from the problem of swallowing coarse materials.
45. Animal Liberation Philosophy in the Social Context of Basic Biological Research

D.S. Sheriff and T. Manopriya.
V.M.K.V. Medical College, Salem - 636 308


In the West, organizations like Animal Liberation or rights movement (ALARM) has taken over many well-established animal welfare organizations and has diverted their functions and resources away from welfare and toward opposition to all animal use by humans. Members and supporters of animal "protection" organizations are not at all of the same mould. They have been classified into three groups; welfarists, pragmatists and absolutists. The welfarists are concerned about animal well-being and are not keenly supportive of animal "rights". The pragmatists believe that animal should have rights, but they recognize that some use of animals by humans will be necessary for the foreseeable future. The absolutists are the extremists of the movement, who insist that all human use of animals must stop immediately. Keeping these groups in mind and the need for an introspection regarding the moral dilemmas one faces as a research worker in the field of bio-medical research the relevance of bioethics will be discussed. It will also help to assess the present status of our animal research in the context taking into account whether there is any bio-ethics committee guiding the use of animals for research purposes.
48. Ethics: A guide or constraint to toxicologists

T.S. Vijaya Kumar and H. Devaraj
Department of Zoology, University of Madras, Guindy campus, Chennai 600 025


It is the duty of a toxicologist / pharmacologist to test a novel chemical / drug for its beneficence, non-maleficence, Deontology, utilitarianism and consequentialism (1). It is his/her task to prejudge a drug before it reaches the public. It is imperative, for this pre-testing, that animals be used. Though several alternates to animals in toxicity testing have been proposed and some been accepted and applied, some aspects leave no choice than animals. Behavioral toxicology/teratology/biology is one such branch which could do with no less a substitute than a whole, performing animal.

Ethical guidelines suggestive of alternates are sometimes felt as constraints that restrain a toxicologist's work plan by refraining attempts on certain fronts. This article is a holistic approach to the issue, wherein the basic need for ethics is explained, especially in toxicological research and concludes that ethics is not a constraint (though at times felt so) but a guideline or precaution to safeguard the interests of every living being, because no doubt GOD gave Man power have dominion over all living things, yet to have dominion over something is not the same as having no consideration for it.


49. Assay of toxins using cell cultures: an ethical alternative to animal experimentation

T.S. Rao
Water and Steam Chemistry Laboratory, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (Facilities), Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research campus, Kalpakkam 603 102.


The aim of this presentation is to highlight possible ways by which the use of animals in experimental work can be so modified as to reduce animal suffering and the number of animals used.

The role of bacterial toxins in the causation of number of diseases of man and animals has been well documented. Clostridium perfringens is the most prolific of toxin producing Clostridia and is divided into five types based on their ability to produce lethal toxins viz; alpha, beta, epsilon and iota. Clostridium perfringens is largely responsible for various toxaemic diseases of animals, as well as gangrene and food poisoning in human beings. Among the different types of Clostridium perfringens, type D is mainly responsible for enterotoxaemia an economically important disease in sheep, goat and cattle. Epsilon toxin produced by the bacterium is the causative agent of the disease. The toxin induces tissue necrosis, increases capillary permeability and the toxin lethality is further activated by proteolytic enzymes in the gut. The assay of the toxin is generally carried out in mice, guinea pig, sheep and goat. The number of animals used for the assay is large. The toxin inflicts pain and trauma in the animal, this amounts to cruelty when the pain is not compensated by the consequential experimental results. Such a procedure is not ethically and thus unacceptable. Hence, it is imperative to look for better assay systems. Cell cultures can be used instead of animal models for toxin assays.

In this study, the effect of epsilon toxin on guinea pigs and mouse nuclear phagocytic system (peritoneal macrophages) was investigated. Macrophage cell suspension was treated with different concentrations of epsilon toxin and incubated for 30, 60 and 90 minutes. After the period of incubation the macrophage - toxin suspension was stained with Trypan blue and the cells were transferred to a counting chamber. Blue stained cells were deemed as dead as dead and unstained refractive cells as live. The percentage of live cells killed was calculated using standard statistical methods. A 1 : 64 dilution of epsilon toxin has shown 90% kill of live cells after 60 minutes of incubation. The percentage kill of live cells decreased with increasing dilution of epsilon toxin. A1 : 2048 dilution resulted in 21% kill of live macrophages after 60 min.

The present assay of the toxin using nuclear phagocytic system proved to be a valuable tool in toxin assay. Further studies on the effect of epsilon toxin on various cell cultures need to be assessed for the cytopathic effects. Concerted efforts are also required to be made for standardizing the toxin - antitoxin neutralization tests in cell cultures instead of laboratory animals. This effort will go a long way in the ethical use of animals in biomedical research.


50. Bias in Ethics?

K. Shanker and R. Ramanibai
Department of Zoology, University of Madras, Guindy campus, Chennai - 600 025


"Keep the past and promote the future" is the promising policy for the survival of life. This, as a rule, is not restricted to any particular form of life but is applicable to life, whatever form it may be. Ethically speaking each and every form of life has equal rights of survival.

However, several of the guidelines framed by man, do not give equal importance to all forms of life. Owing to his occupying the uppermost creamy layer in the evolutionary tree, man has framed most, if not all, guidelines and rules to promote, at the cost of other living beings, only one species i.e. Homo sapiens. The science of morals in fact is in favour of man and man alone. Ethics is an unbiased form, would or should negate this one sidedness and give equal status to all forms of life. Only then will the term "Bioethics" be justified as "ethics" for, and of "biota".


51. A Scientific approach to life - Anthropological approach

S.A. Abdul Latheef, K.N. Reddy and Subramanyam*
Department of Anthropology, S.V. University, Tirupati - 517 502, Andhra Pradesh
*Department of Cardiology, S.V.R.R.G. Hospital, Tirupati - 517 507


The subject matter of `life' has already been discussed at length by poets, philosophers to the scholars working in pure sciences, but still life remains an enigmatic. The discipline anthropology has its own approach to life and is viewed positively contrary to religious scripts. Anthropologists believe life an evolving one through evolution and continuity of life gives way to newer beings. These aspects will be discussed in the paper.
60. Humankind in Predicament

S.A. Abdul Latheef, K.N. Reddy and Subramanyam*
Department of Anthropology, S.V. University, Tirupati - 517 502, Andhra Pradesh
*Department of Cardiology, S.V.R.R.G. Hospital, Tirupati - 517 507


Human beings are a biocultural product of evolution. Like any other being humans are also at the peak of evolution. They differ from the rest of animals in using culture as a means of adaptation as well as cultural technologies for manipulating nature. In the process he is subjecting himself as an endangered animal. Furthermore, civilization is like tempest and there is no doubt that humans may disappear ultimately because of their extremism in cultural technology. Defiantly, we are at cross roads whether we seek a direction from the nature or nurture provides a direction for us, this remains to be seen.
53. Ethics behind the sufferings of aquatic animals on pollution stress

B. Sivaramakrishna and K. Radhakrishnaiah
Department of Zoology, Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapur - 515 003, A. P.


The great advancement of science and technology in the twentieth century is aiding rapid urbanization, industrialization and agricultural development. But human beings have failed in using the ecological principles to minimize the negative impacts of these developments; one such failure is causing pollution of aquatic environment with indiscriminate disposal of sewage and industrial and agricultural wastes. This not only degrades the water quality but also endangers the survival of animals living in it. It is an ecological threat and is a global warning. Even those survived are facing a number of ethnological, physiological, biochemical and histological disorders throughout their life; due to which some species are at the verge of extinction. In the present study such sufferings are explained in a few aquatic animals exposed to various pollutants. Based on those it is the time for man to think either the ethics behind the sufferings of those innocent creatures or satisfy himself with the scientific progress.
54. Bioethical management of working bullocks in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh

K. Prudhvi Reddy and K. Radhakrishnaiah
Department of Zoology, Sri Krishnadevaraya University, Anantapur - 515 003


Humans and animals are interdependent since the beginning of history. Bullocks serve as chief source of farm power and transport not only in rural areas but also in urban centres. Their dung is highly useful to generate the non conventional energy. In India, Andhra Pradesh stands fifth in white cattle population (12.38 millions); Anantapur district possess around six lakhs. However, it is observed that more than 50% of them are suffering from various infectious and transmissible viral, bacterial, fungal, protozoan and helminth diseases. Most of the farmers are caring least the health of them; and once they feel that the diseased animals are unfit for their domestic and farm purposes they are mercilessly sold to slaughter houses and brutally killed. In recent days the most neglected disease observed in bullocks of Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh, is myrotheciotoxicosis, a fungal disease spread by giving them mould affected groundnut leaves as fodder. Groundnut is the major agricultural crop in this district; Myrothecium roridum is the toxic fungus which grows on stalked leaves. It releases a toxin known as myrothecium roridin which causes epistaxis (nasal bleeding) in working bullocks. Based on the survey made it is recorded that more than 10,000 animals are suffering alone from this toxicosis. But the farmers are extracting work from them innocently or ignorantly without taking proper care. So, in this study a detailed report is prepared on the nature of outbreak of this syndrome to place it before them with an appeal to extend their concern on these dumb animals while extracting work from them.
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