The first annual report of biomedical institutions in Portugal, examining how they discuss the use of animals in research, shows significant steps have been taking towards openness and transparency.
The report of the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal, published today, is co-ordinated by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), and signed by 19 Portuguese institutions (see the report for the full list).
The publication coincides with the first-ever global day to recognise openness in animal research Be Open about Animal Research Day – Get on BOARD with many Portuguese institutions sharing their latest examples of science communication about animal research.
The implementation of the Agreement is based on four commitments, the first three of which refer to the promotion and improvement of internal and external communications by the signatory institutions, and the last which refers to the sharing of experiences and results.
Among the encouraging results of the report, documenting the openness and transparency of Portuguese institutions in 2020, were:
84% of the signatories reported lectures and presentations on the use of animals in research in their institutions to promote internal communication;
74% mentioned the organisation of open days with space dedicated to animal research;
68% reported publishing news about scientific discoveries, in which animal models were used, as a proactive way of sharing information.
Some examples of openness:
Videos Science Snapshots, Champalimaud Foundation
Open Days Visit to the bioterium of aquatic organisms! - CIIMAR Open Week
However, there are areas that require greater improvement:
Around half the institutions (53%) have a position statement available on their website. This is considered to be one of the most important aspects of openness.
Under half the institutions (41%) provide images of the animals used in their research;
Just a fifth of institutions (21%) included statistical data on animal research on their websites.
EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, welcomed the report: “It’s great to see Portuguese institutions embracing openness in animal research and also how they have also contributed to #BOARD21 the first global celebration of openness today.”
Ana Isabel Santos, of NOVA Medical School, representative of the Portuguese Transparency Agreement said: “The results show that institutions are taking the first important steps towards a commitment to creating greater opportunities for the public to have access to accessible information on the use of animals in research.”
The agreement, including mainly universities and research centres is one of six agreements in Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Spain, UK).
In order to increase scientific knowledge and improve human and veterinary medical therapies as well as better protect humans, animals and the environment, high quality research, including testing for vaccines, requires an approach that includes the use of animal models. Scientists are required to always use alternative non-animal models if these are available, but a complete replacement of animal research is not yet foreseeable.
For further information contact EARA Communications Officer, Ana Barros firstname.lastname@example.org on +44 (0)20 3355 3095
Notes to editors
According to the latest data there were 79,447 uses of animals for scientific and teaching purposes in Portugal in 2019 – the most used animals were mice, rats and fish (98.7%).
The Transparency Agreement comprises four Commitments:
· Commitment 1: We will be clear about when, how, and why we use animals in research.
· Commitment 2: We will enhance our communications with the media and the public about our research using animals.
· Commitment 3: We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to find out about research using animals.
· Commitment 4: We will report on progress annually and share our experiences.
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 117 partner organisations, including private and public research bodies, universities, regional and national biomedical associations and suppliers, across 21 European 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