On Thursday 12 January the Max Planck Society (MPS) in Germany published a White Paper in which it outlines key ethical issues surrounding the use of animals in basic research. The Senate of the MPS has adopted the white paper as a declaration of principle.
The White Paper states why animal research is still a vital part of life sciences research, and explains the legal and ethical framework that regulates animal research at the Max Planck Society. Together with the 3Rs, these issues shape the approach to animal research throughout the Society. Practically, the Max Planck Society has translated the ethical stance on animal research outlined in the White Paper into a number of commitments, including measures to increase animal welfare, encouraging and financing alternatives to the use of animals, and proactive engagement in professionalizing the public discourse on animal ethics.
In an important step the MPS has committed itself to open and proactive communications on the use of animals in research by explaining the research goals, the rationale for the application of certain methods and the outcome of the research projects to the public at large. In this way, the MPS intends to foster an informed dialogue between science and society on the use of animals in biomedical research.
A Presidential Commission on Animal Research in basic science at the Max Planck Society produced the White paper as part of an extensive and rigorous discussion process. In this process, the MPS consulted a group of renowned researchers from various areas of the life sciences, behavioural researchers, ethicists, communication specialists and senior individuals from the field of research policy.
The Presidential Commission was convened by Professor Dr. Martin Stratmann (President, Max Planck Society) and chaired by Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Wolf Singer (Founding Director, Ernst Strüngmann Institute for Neuroscience in cooperation with Max Planck Society). Experts who fed into the White Paper include Professor Sir Colin Blakemore (Neuroscience and Philosophy), Professor Dr. Stefan Treue (Director, German Primate Center), Professor Sir Mark Walport (Chief Scientific Adviser, UK Government) and Kirk Leech (Executive Director, European Animal Research Association).
Read the full White Paper: “Position statement of the Max Planck Society concerning the use of animals in experiments for basic research” (in German; English version starts on page 32)
Read more: Animal research at the Max Planck Society