Belgian universities, research centres and companies have signed a Transparency Agreement on animal research with a commitment to communicating in a more open way about how animals are used in research.
Under the leadership of the Belgian Council for Animal Research (BCLAS), and in collaboration with the European Animal Research Association (EARA) which supports the biomedical sector in Europe, 18 Belgian universities and private companies have now drawn up a Transparency Agreement outlining their engagement towards open communication on animal testing. The agreement contains four main commitments:
1. Create more clarity about how, when and why animals are used in research 2. Better communication with the media and the public about implementing the alternatives and reducing or refining animal testing 3. Offer the general public the opportunity to become acquainted with laboratory animal research and the regulations that apply to it, for example via open lab days 4. Report the impact of our communication and share experiences annually
The signatory organisations are: Ablynx, GSK, ILVO, Janssen, KU Leuven, Orsi Academy, Remynd, University of Antwerp, UCB, UCLouvain, University of Ghent, University of Hasselt, University of Mons, University of Namur, ULB, University of Liege, VIB, VUB.
The full agreement and an overview of the signatories can be found on the BCLAS website.
Similar Transparency Agreements have already been rolled out in the and Portugal, Spain and the UK.
A focus on animal welfare and communication
Belgium is internationally renowned for its pioneering biological and biomedical research and basic research remains enormously important to understand biological processes and disease. Unfortunately, animals are still needed today for many parts of this research and all new medicines are tested on animals before they reach human clinical trials.
The regulations for the use of laboratory animals are strict. Animal experiments can only happen if there is no alternative available, and in some cases, they are required by law. However, every animal experiment requires a careful ethical consideration, with consideration of the value of the research and whether it is necessary to use animals.
“For the time being we cannot do without animal testing,” explains Liesbeth Aerts of Infopoint Animal Testing (IPPO). “Because animal welfare is important to all of us, researchers continue to focus on reducing and refining animal research, in addition to applying and developing alternatives (replace, reduce, refine): the 3Rs.
“This transparency agreement underlines the importance that researchers in Belgium attach to animal welfare. By communicating openly, we want to create more clarity about when, how and why animal experiments are currently necessary.”
“EARA fully supports this important initiative of the Belgian biomedical sector,” added EARA executive director Kirk Leech. “Thanks to this agreement, the general public in Belgium will be better informed about animal research and the role it plays within scientific study.
“More openness will also clearly show what efforts that the public and private sectors are making to minimise animal use and to develop better alternatives.”
“We are pleased that a large number of companies and institutes in Belgium that work with animals or fund research with animals, joined the agreement,” concludes Aerts, “Our hope is to raise the bar for the entire sector, not only in relation to the 3Rs, but also when it comes to communication.”
Notes for editors
BCLAS is a professional and scientific association that aims to promote the replacement, reduction and refinement of laboratory animal use by driving reflection, sharing information, providing education and support to the scientific community, authorities and public, in order to lead to an ethical, responsible and qualitative research enabling further improvement in human & animal health.
For more information Liesbeth Aerts, Infopoint animal research firstname.lastname@example.org +32 16 37 67 77