The third annual report analysing the openness of Spanish biomedical institutions, and how they discuss the use of animals in research, has shown them leading the way in the EU on transparency.
The report of the COSCE (Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies) Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain, prepared by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), confirmed that all 140 member institutions have a declaration on their website about their use of animals and their importance for biomedical research - one of the most important examples of openness and transparency.
In a separate report by EARA on EU websites, that has just been presented to the European Commission, Spain scored the highest percentage of websites with declarations (81%) across the EU.
The agreement, established in 2016, and now the largest in Europe and the world, includes both public and private research institutions, such as universities and drug companies, professional organisations, patients groups, and is serving as a template to other agreements established recently in Portugal and Belgium.
Among the encouraging results of the report, documenting the openness and transparency of Spanish institutions in 2019, were:
· Three quarters (77%) of respondents confirmed that they mention the role of animals when publishing news of biomedical breakthroughs.
· Almost two thirds (62%) provide presentations to all institutional staff about their animal facilities.
· Half the respondents (52%) now make presentations at other institutes or schools, and the same number (49%) have opened their doors to students or members of the public.
Examples of openness demonstrated by members of the transparency agreement included:
· A video by the company Aprende con Danio on how studies of fish have helped in finding cures for cancer.
· Open days, or virtual visits to animals facilities, offered by CIMA of the University of Navarra, Institute of Biomedicine of the University of Sevilla, or the National Hospital for Paraplegics. In addition, the Aragonese Institute of Health Sciences offers a reservation form for visits on its website.
· An interview with transparency agreement member Lluis Montoliu in El País, on how a genetically altered mouse has been reproduced to match the genetic condition of a person with albinism.
Margarita del Val, a member of the Life and Health Sciences of the Governing Board of COSCE, said: “We are getting a clear message from the institutions of the Agreement that they now understand how to communicate about animal research to the public and see no downside to doing this.”
Javier Guillén, member of the EARA and director for Europe and Latin America of AALAC International: “While the first and most important step of making a public statement about their animal research has been achieved, we now need to see more institutions acting in a proactive way in their communication – this report provides them with many examples of this.
Notes to editors
According to the latest data there were 836,096 uses of animals for scientific and teaching purposes in Spain in 2019.
The four commitments of the Spanish Transparency Agreement are:
1/ Speak with clarity about when, how and why animals are used in investigation.
2/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.
3/ Develop initiatives that improve knowledge and understanding by society about the use of animals in scientific research.
4/Report annually on progress and share their experiences of openness.
About COSCE The Confederation of Scientific Societies of Spain is the result an initiative that began in 2003 and brings together 82 scientific societies representing more than 40,000 members. The purpose of COSCE, are to contribute to the scientific and technological development of Spain; advocate on issues that affect science and promote a greater understanding of its benefits.
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 also takes responsibility for the choice and sustainability in the global transport of animals for medical research. It has more than 100 partner organisations, including private and public research bodies, universities, regional and national biomedical associations and suppliers, across 22 countries.
EARA’s vision is to enhance the understanding and recognition of research involving animals across Europe, allowing for a more constructive dialogue with all stakeholders and a more efficient climate for research in Europe www.eara.eu.