All signatories show greater openness in first report of the
Dutch Transparency Agreement on Animal Research
The first annual report (covering 2022) of the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in the Netherlands (TA) shows that there have been improvements to openness in most of the 20 signatory organisations (see list below).
Most importantly, since its launch in November 2021, all signatories now have a position statement about their use of animals in research on their institutional website.
The signatories consist of universities, university medical centres, scientific institutes, companies, and associations and was drafted in collaboration with the European Animal Research Association (EARA) and Stichting Informatie Dierproeven (SID) and inspired by existing transparency agreements from across Europe.
Looking at the report in greater detail, more signatories have given their own non-research staff the opportunity to learn more about animal research, either by giving talks (15 signatories), hosting lab visits (15 signatories), or by open invitations to attend animal welfare meetings (6 signatories).
An increased number of signatories used video footage of laboratory animals (9 signatories), video footage of their facilities (8 signatories), or images of animals undergoing procedures (7 signatories).
However, the number of signatories publishing non-technical summaries, about their research using animals, has remained stable (6 signatories), while just over half of the signatories (9) arranged media access to their animal facilities in 2022.
In a collective effort by five signatory organisations (Radboud University, Radboudumc, Sportvisserij Nederland, Charles River Laboratories, and the Biomedical Primate Research Centre) the first-ever TA Open Week was held in May last year. These signatories opened their laboratories (either on location or virtually) to the public, the media, and politicians to explain about and discuss animal research. The event was received positively by both visitors and the hosts.
Harry Emmen, head of toxicology at Charles River Laboratories, spoke about their contribution, which they named ‘Labgesprekken’ or ‘Lab Conversations’: “At Charles River we aim to communicate as proactively and transparently as possible about the safety research we perform and the use of animals that is still often required.
“We pay constant attention to this through the constructive ‘labgesprekken’ for which politicians, media, academia and the local community visit the Charles River Den Bosch site. Labgesprekken provide an excellent opportunity to enhance openness regarding both animal and non-animal testing methods.”
Two signatories contributed to an episode of the TV news show Nieuwsuur with an eight-minute item on animal research (starting at 8.25m). The item dealt with the question of whether animal research could possibly be replaced by animal-free methods and in what timeframe that would be.
The Biomedical Primate Research Centre as well as the Netherlands Cancer Institute did interviews, showed their labs and laboratory animals, as well as some procedures on animals. They also highlighted in what cases and to what extend they use animal-free methods and for which reasons they also keep doing research with animals.
EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, said: "The first report of the Netherlands Transparency Agreement is an important step towards greater openness about the use of animals in research and its importance.
"It has been good to see the progress that has already been made and I hope this can be built on in future years."
The signatories of the Agreement are: Amsterdam UMC, Biomedical Primate Research Centre, Charles River Laboratories Den Bosch B.V., Envigo RMS B.V., Erasmus MC, Hubrecht Institute, Leiden University, Leiden UMC, Maastricht University, Netherlands Cancer Institute, Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, Radboudumc, Radboud University, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, TNO, University of Groningen and UMC Groningen, Vereniging Sportvisserij Nederland, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Wageningen University & Research.
For further information contact Netherlands Transparency Agreement co-ordinator Monique Havermans
About the Netherlands Transparency Agreement
The aim of the agreement is to create a more open and transparent climate around animal research, a subject that usually leads to heated discussions in society, the media and politics. By signing, the organisations have made the following four commitments:
1. We are clear about when, how and why we use animals in research.
2. We will enhance our communication with the media and the public about our
involvement in animal research in the Netherlands.
3. We will be proactive in providing opportunities for the public to inform themselves about
research using animals and the regulations that govern it.
4. We will report on our progress annually and share our experiences.