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EARA study of EU-based websites 2024 - results in the Netherlands


A study of the websites of biomedical research bodies in the Netherlands, by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), to assess how openly they discuss their research using animals, shows that Dutch institutions are showing greater openness than ever before.


The EARA Study of EU-based websites 2024, published today, analysed a total of 908 websites across the EU in 2023, and the report has now been presented to the EU Commission. In the Netherlands, 62 institutional websites were assessed, both public and private bodies, such as universities, research centres and pharmaceutical companies, and the main findings were that:

  • In the most important category, more than half of all Dutch biomedical institutions (55%) have a recognisable statement on their websites explaining the use of animals in research in language clearly understandable to the public. This is also above the overall EU average for website statements (45%).

  • In other categories assessed, Dutch institutions have shown improvement in displaying case studies (61%), images (50%), and extensive background information (55%) on the use of animals in research, including frequently asked questions (FAQs) and useful links.

  • In common with many other EU countries, the presence of content on statistical information about animal use at individual institutions (35%), and the prominence of the website content (42%) needs to be improved.


However, an analysis of the biomedical institutions in the Dutch Transparency Agreement on Animal Research - launched in 2021 and now with 21 signatory bodies - that have all pledged to be more open about their use of animals, shows much better results. Almost all of these institutions (95%) have a clear statement about animal research on their website. Three quarters of the signatory bodies also reached the required standard in every other category assessed.

EARA Executive Director, Kirk Leech, said: “Dutch institutions have made great strides towards being more open about their use of animals in research and the signatories of the Transparency Agreement, in particular, are setting a benchmark for the rest of the EU.”

Transparency Agreements have been a successful launchpad, across Europe, for greater efforts to produce useful information for the public about research at individual institutions, and have led to a greater commitment by institutions to be more open (there are agreements in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain).


Since the previous EARA study in 2020, stricter criteria have been introduced into the assessment categories, so it is not possible to make comparisons. When EARA first began assessing websites, back in 2017, the presence of good quality institutional website content on animal research was scarce, since then significant improvements have meant that it has been possible to raise the benchmark.


EARA is now confident that, if an institution can reach the required standard in all categories, they will be providing the public with the comprehensive information they need to make informed opinions on the use of animals in biomedical research. 

For further information contact EARA Communications Manager, Bob Tolliday, btolliday@eara.eu on +44 (0)7970 132801


Notes to editors

 

About EARA

The European Animal Research Association (EARA) is an organisation that communicates and advocates on biomedical research using animals and provides accurate, evidence-based information. It has more than 170 member organisations, including private and public research bodies, universities, regional and national biomedical associations and suppliers, in 24 European countries (19 in the EU) and four other continents.


EARA’s vision is that animal research is understood by society as still a critical part of the scientific process, leading to an informed and beneficial climate for innovation and progress for the benefit of human and animal and environmental health.


The website study has helped EARA identify areas of good practice on communications and openness in the life sciences sector and areas where improvement is needed. It will also help EARA provide guidance on best practice to all its member organisations and the sector as a whole across Europe and build on the advice already given to EARA members in the EARA Communications Handbook.


The study is therefore a tool that can then be used to encourage greater transparency in line with the recommendations made in Section 3 of the Review of Directive 2010/63/EU in November 2017.

 

The benefits of animal research

Most of the medicines we use have at some point involved research using animals. Animals are essential in research on Covid-19 for understanding the virus, and for assessing potential drugs and vaccines. They will help millions with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord damage and parasitic infections like malaria. There are three main reasons why animals are used in research:


  • To advance scientific understanding

  • To develop solutions to medical problems

  • To test medicines and vaccines in order to protect the safety of people, animals and the environment.


Animals are used when there is a need to find out what happens in the whole living body, which is far more complex than the sum of its parts. It is very difficult, and in most cases simply not yet possible, to develop non-animal methods to replace the use of living animals.


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