Dissection banned in Israeli schools

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The Israeli government last week announced a ban on animal experiments in the school system, specifically citing the dissection of frogs. Minister of Education Yossi Sarid last week said that there are now ‘virtual’ ways of teaching students anatomy, so that dissection is no longer justified.

But the ban and its potential implications immediately came under fire from Rami Rahamimoff, a member of the medical faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and chairman of the ministry of education's advisory committee on biology teaching.

Rahamimoff said that the move will “dramatically affect the teaching of biology” and that frogs are not the main concern. He pointed out that dissecting frogs is not part of the compulsory curriculum, and that data from the ministry itself show that fewer than ten frogs a year are killed in schools.

His concern is that the sweeping language of Sarid's ban will include a more common kind of dissection, that of animal organs and fish, which biology teachers buy from butcher's shops. He is also worried that the ban will prohibit dissections by gifted high-school students enrolled in university biology courses.

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Watzman, H. Dissection banned in Israeli schools. Nature 402, 845 (1999) doi:10.1038/47149

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