The first report on the Spanish biomedical sector’s commitment to be more transparent about its research using animals, published today, has highlighted the great progress being made to improve openness.
Launched in 2016, the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain, (‘Acuerdo de transparencia sobre el uso de animales en experimentación científica en España’) now has more than 120 public and private research centres, universities and scientific societies as signatories. It contains four commitments for research centres in Spain to provide more information about animal research at their institutions.
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 experiences.
The report, (in Spanish) launched today at the Student Residence of the CSIC, in Madrid, assessing the development of the fourth commitment has been carried out by the European Animal Research Association (EARA), in partnership with the Spanish Society for Laboratory Animal Sciences (SECAL), a member of both the Spanish Confederation of Scientific Societies (COSCE) and EARA.
One of the most important aspects of the Agreement has been the creation of a declaration on their website by the vast majority of organisations (95%) explaining the institutional policy on the use of animals.
EARA Board member, Javier Guillén, said: “The appearance of these institutional declarations has been one of the clearest and most visible examples of the decision of the signatory organisations for transparency.”
Lluís Montoliu, a member of the COSCE commission, added: “The survey results show that great progress has been made to disseminate information on the use of animals in science. It is very pleasing to see that an increasing number of institutions are not only openly declaring their use of animals, but also prepared to explain publicly the benefits of this research for society.”
Other findings from the survey were:
– It was encouraging to see that almost all the respondents said that they had experienced no significant barriers in providing information to the media and the general public on the conditions in which research is carried out using animals.
– Increased recognition by the signatories (87% of respondents) of the value of raising public awareness of animal research through events, tours and presentations.
– The most common method of communication (79% of respondents) is the publication of news about scientific advances which relates to animal research.
– A growing number of institutions (42% of respondents) believe that the Agreement has already had an impact on society in general.
– Almost two thirds of survey respondents (63% of respondents) still do not have a policy of mentioning the use of animal models in research in the institutions press releases.
In addition, several examples of transparency activities promoted by the Agreement have been collected, such as visits by students or journalists to animal research facilities and other media reporting and are included throughout the Report – half the institutions also reported that they had taken part in science festivals.
Nevertheless, the report also showed that while great progress has been made to improve communications both internally and externally this activity is still at an early stage, as not all institutions have begun to carry out transparency activities beyond the institutional declarations.