Colombian scientists have objected to a draft law that could jeopardize some studies.
— Science wasn’t always supported in Colombia, but I don’t think any of us expected it to happen. No one says we don’t need regulation, but it affects almost everything we do as researchers, says Natalie Castelblanco Martinez nature.
She is a Colombian biologist who now works at Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology.
In her home country, there have recently been several legislative proposals on the table to ban almost all research and education that uses live animals.
A bill stating that wild animals may not be used in education or biological research has already been withdrawn after opposition from scientists, but another bill and a constitutional amendment are still under consideration in the Colombian Senate.
Supervision of students
The bill, drafted by Senator Padilla Villarraga, proposes banning the use of “live animals in scientific research, toxicological studies, biological studies and related studies” when the results can be obtained by other means or when live animals of “higher rank” are used in research. animal scale”.
Exactly what the latter means has been a topic of debate in Colombia, but researchers have interpreted it to mean animals with greater cognitive abilities than most animals.
The bill also proposes to change the education students receive. It is suggested that bachelor’s degree students cannot interact with animals until their final two years at university, after which it will only be permitted under supervision.
Senator Villarraga is also calling for changes to the country’s ethics approval process. She proposes a constitutional amendment that would recognize animals as individuals with equal legal protection.
The group has been created
The legislative proposals caused major unrest among Colombian researchers, and the threat prompted researchers to organize.
It started with a WhatsApp conversation with interested biologists, but has now evolved into a group called “Biodiversos,” which currently has more than 2,750 members.
Castelblanco Martinez, a member, says the group has so far been content to send statements against the bills, but now says that is changing. Members recently attended a conference call with Senator Villarraga to share their concerns.
There are divided opinions on whether the bills will be voted through the Senate. Some believe that the bill will be signed at the end of the year, while others believe that it is unlikely to be passed after the strong reactions against the withdrawn bill.
“We must act as if this will happen, because many people will lose their jobs if this bill is passed,” Carlos Daniel Cadena Ordonez, dean of the Faculty of Sciences at the Andean University in Bogotá, tells Nature.
“Explorer. Unapologetic entrepreneur. Alcohol fanatic. Certified writer. Wannabe tv evangelist. Twitter fanatic. Student. Web scholar. Travel buff.”