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Should animal dissection be banned from schools?




Fifth grade students dissect owl pellets in a science classroom at the Excel Academy Public Charter School in Washington, DC, April 5, 2017,
Fifth grade students dissect owl pellets in a science classroom at the Excel Academy Public Charter School in Washington, DC, April 5, 2017,
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

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A new California bill, AB 1586, could ban animal dissection in K-12 classrooms throughout the state.

The Replacing Animals in Science (RAISE) Act argues that animal dissection is costly, exposes participants to carcinogenic chemicals and is harmful to both animals and the environment. The bill proposes alternative projects such as video recordings, three-dimensional models, interactive simulation software, among other educational substitutes. Existing law currently allows students with a moral objection to refrain from animal dissection.

Studies conducted in the past few decades have offered different conclusions comparing the efficacy of animal dissection and alternative methods.

Among teachers, the dissection debate continues. Some educators argue that animal dissection can be an important learning experience that can either inspire or discourage students from pursuing a career in biology and cannot be replaced with any substitutes.

The legislation was introduced by Assemblymember Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) and is cosponsored by science and animal advocacy groups including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Social Compassion in Legislation and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

We debate the bill.

Guests:

John Pippin. M.D., director of academic affairs at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a cosponsor of the bill; he tweets @JohnPippinMD

Sherry Annee, president of the National Association of Biology Teachers