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Clear evidence of greater openness about animal research – Spanish report

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

In its most comprehensive annual report ever, the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain (TA) has given numerous examples of openness by its signatory institutions.

The fifth report (and in Spanish) of COSCE (Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies) was prepared by EARA and highlighted that in 2021:

  • Every respondent institution confirmed that they have a statement about their use of animals in research on their website – the clearest evidence of their commitment towards openness and transparency.

  • Despite the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2021, a large number (81%) of institutions allowed access to groups of visitors.

  • Almost three quarters (72%) have published news on their institutional website related to animal research and a similar number (67%) reported that they had received media coverage – in the 2018 transparency agreement report only 37% reported media interest.

  • Use of social media is increasing and 84% of institutions said they had discussed the use of animal models on platforms such as Twitter.

EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, said: “Spain has the largest Transparency Agreement in the world (159 members) and continues to set the standard for openness and transparency, among EU countries, when talking about animal research.”

Almost every institution in the TA said that they are now clear about how to meet the objectives of the transparency agreement and consider that it is an important step for biomedical research in Spain.

One institution told the report: “In our constant interest in fulfilling the three commitments of the Agreement, we review and assess the initiatives that other centres have carried out to see how we can adapt them to our company and implement them, in order to be more transparent and visible year after year.”

The report was published on the same day as Spain’s annual statistics on animal use in biomedical research. The figures showed a rise in use following the pandemic (1,289,315) – this included a nutritional study on sea bass (41%), classified as mild severity.

The scientific community is increasingly aware that it has to provide society with information on why, what for, when and how animals are used in experimentation. The annual report demonstrates the efforts being made to promote social awareness of the key role of animal research in the development of drugs and treatments.

Society benefits from the work of the scientific institutions that develop their activity through the use of animals, which are fundamental for the development of treatments and vaccines for any infection and have been decisive in the rapid development of the vaccines against in the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report considers it important to point out that of the seven new additions to the transparency agreement in Spain, two are patient associations and one represents a hospital. This reaffirms the relevance of animal research for its application to human health, beyond basic scientific research.

By signing up to a national Transparency Agreement, the signatories agree to four commitments:

  • Speak with clarity about when, how and why animals are used in investigation.

  • Provide adequate information to the media and the general public about the conditions under which research using animals is carried out and the results obtained from them.

  • Develop initiatives that generate greater knowledge and understanding in society about the use of animals in scientific research.

  • Report annually on progress and share experiences.

Notes to the Editor

523 institutions worldwide have signed a transparency agreement.

In total, the 9 countries with an agreement group 523 institutions. Spain 159 (30.4%), United Kingdom 128 (24.5%), Germany 89 (17%), France 43 (8.2%), New Zealand 27 (5.2%), Switzerland 25 (4.8%), Portugal 19 (3.6%), Belgium 18 (3.4%) and Netherlands 15 (2.9%).

The report has been carried out by the European Association for Animal Research (EARA) through a survey that indicates the degree of compliance with the commitments made by the member organisations. The data extracted from the survey of the entities adhered to the Agreement confirm the consolidation and growing interest of the Spanish scientific community in transparency in the use of animals for scientific research.


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