The fourth annual report of the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain has revealed the continued drive of institutions in 2020 to raise awareness despite the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report showed that once again the number of institutions in the agreement has increased, up from 140 to 152 and the Spanish agreement continues to be the largest in the world. As evidence of the growing commitment to openness in Europe a further three transparency agreements (France, Germany, the Netherlands) were signed in 2021, bringing the total to seven in Europe with a further agreement signed in New Zealand.
In the report of the COSCE (Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies), prepared by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), there was either an improvement in transparency on the results for 2019, or remained they similar:
· More than two thirds of institutions (67%) surveyed said they had worked with the media on stories that reference the use of animals in research, up from 46% of institutions in the last report.
· Despite the pandemic, more than half the organisations (54%) took part in scientific outreach activities and talks at other institutes or schools (41%) and almost two thirds (64%) provided access to their facilities for external visitors to observe their research, at student events, open days, or visits by politicians or by other bodies.
· All 152 signatory institutions 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.
· 71% have published news on the website of their institution related to research with animals.
· On institutional websites there has been an increasing use of video, now almost a third of organisations (30%) – see this example from the Spanish Society of Science for Laboratory Animals (SECAL).
· Most encouragingly, 85% of those surveyed told us that they have sufficient support to implement the Agreement from their institution.
· A record number of institutions were also able to complete the survey (93%).
EARA executive director, Kirk Leech, said: “Despite the restrictions of the Covid pandemic, it’s clear from this survey that the Spanish biomedical community has made great efforts to continue to raise awareness about the key role that animal research plays in early drug development and new treatments.
It was also noticeable that institutions also reported that being open about their work had made it easier for them to discuss the impact of the pandemic with the media and the public.”
Lluis Montoliu, a researcher at the National Center for Biotechnology of the Higher Council for Scientific Research and member of COSCE stated that: “The agreement that we launched from COSCE in 2016 has served as an example to other similar agreements for transparency in animal experimentation that have been launched in other countries later.”
Javier Guillén, EARA Board member and a director for Europe and Latin America of AAALAC International, added: “The commitment to transparency is an unstoppable fact throughout the world, the scientific community has realized that it has to get information to society about why, for what, when and how animals are used in experimentation.”