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Animal rights infiltration at Brussels university

On Tuesday, Belgian animal rights group GAIA published video material taken during an undercover investigation at the animal research facility of the Free University of Brussels (VUB), Belgium. The footage was taken over the course of three months, and suggests that the care for the animals in the facility was inadequate. VUB announced that they will investigate the footage and cooperate with an external inquiry announced by the State Secretary for animal welfare.


Coverage of the infiltration on the website of Het Laatste Nieuws, the most popular newspaper in Flanders and Belgium.

The infiltration took place between March and June of this year. Under orders of GAIA, an undercover informant spent three months working as an animal caretaker at VUB’s Animalarium, the animal research facility at the university’s Jette campus. The six minute long video that GAIA released on Tuesday shows footage of animals in the facility, as well as recordings of conversations with employees at the Animalarium. Reactions to the video where mixed: half of comments on the article in Het Laatste Nieuws were opposed to animal research, while around 25% explained the role of animal research in biomedicine, and a further 25% were neutral on the issue.

VUB has announced that it will thoroughly investigate the footage to determine whether any of the events in the video breached national legislation or the university’s internal standards. The university understands that the video has raised concerns, and will examine the need for a strengthening of internal procedures. In addition, VUB has advanced plans for a new research infrastructure designed to provide housing for research animals with the most modern techniques, with particular attention being paid to animal welfare.

Bianca Debaets, Brussels State Secretary for Animal Welfare, has said she was shocked by the footage, and that her administration will carry out an extra inspection of the lab in question. The VUB has promised its full cooperation in the inspection. Debaets added that Brussels subsidises promising 3Rs research at the VUB and that animal research remains necessary in research, and should remain possible within a strict and well-enforced legislative framework.

Communications and Media Manager with the European Animal Research Association (EARA)

Responsible to: Executive Director
Salary: Up to £40,000
Benefits: 25 days’ paid holiday per year, employer contribution to pension, plus international travel
Contract: Permanent, full-time (35 hours a week)
Located: Central London
This is a re-advertisement, previous applicants need not reapply

The European Animal Research Association (EARA)

EARA is a European organisation that communicates and advocates biomedical research using animals by providing accurate and evidence-based information. We aim at educating the public on its benefits, cooperating with research stakeholders, and promoting the creation and development of national networks.

Purpose of the Role:

  • Lead the implementation of the external communications strategy of the European Animal Research Association (EARA), agreed by the Board and managed by the Executive Director.
  • Oversee the writing, production and distribution of internal communications information on the work and output of EARA to our membership.
  • Liaise with the EARA Board of experts in the field of animal research, breeding, communications and advocacy.

Principal Duties:

  • Communicate with EARA’s members and other stakeholders effectively about our work
  • Create briefings, press releases, website copy, newsletters, leaflets, brochures and other written content for targeted audiences and broader communication purposes
  • Develop, produce and deliver effective content and campaigns for EARA’s digital channels, including its website, social media platforms and e-communications
  • Manage and expand EARA’s nationally based social media ambassadors
  • Develop and maintain good relationships with journalists
  • Deliver presentations to EARA’s current and potential stakeholders
  • Measure the impact of the organisation’s traditional and social media presence and campaigns and provide analytical reports
  • Undertake other reasonable tasks required by EARA when needed

Person Specifications

  • Proven experience of science communications, media relations, social media and website management
  • An understanding of the scientific, ethical and moral justification for animal research
  • Excellent communication skills, both written and verbal

Essential Qualities, skills and experience

  • Ability to adapt communications to reach different audiences
  • Experience of engaging with a variety of internal and external stakeholders
  • Ability to work under pressure, meet agreed deadlines, prioritise workload and maximise the use of time
  • Ability to work both as part of a small team and independently
  • A commitment to the aims and objectives of EARA

Additional Requirements

    • Written and/or oral competency in another European language is desirable
    • To be able to work occasional evenings and weekends
    • Willing to undertake occasional travel in the UK and Europe

Application Process:

Please email your CV and an accompanying cover letter explaining how you meet the person specification to with the subject heading ‘Communications Manager’. Please also give an indication of when you would be available to start work, as we are keen to fill this post as soon as possible.

The application deadline is Friday 29th September, 17.00 BST. Interviews will take place in London on 5th and 9th October.




Declaração de apoio à Diretiva Europeia 2010/63/UE

Declaração de apoio à Diretiva Europeia 2010/63/UE (“Diretiva”) relativa à proteção dos animais utilizados para fins científicos

A utilização de animais na investigação tem facilitado os maiores avanços na medicina que transformaram a saúde humana e animal. Apoiamos a utilização de animais na investigação quando não existam métodos alternativos disponíveis, quando os potenciais benefícios para a saúde sejam imperativos e quando as normas aceitáveis de ética e bem-estar possam ser cumpridas.

A Diretiva Europeia 2010/63/UE melhorou as normas relativas ao bem-estar dos animais e introduziu os conceitos de refinamento, substituição e redução (“3Rs”) em toda a UE, garantindo ao mesmo tempo que a Europa continua a ser líder mundial em investigação biomédica. Nos termos desta Diretiva, os animais podem ser utilizados na investigação quando os potenciais benefícios médicos, veterinários e científicos sejam imperativos e não exista um método alternativo viável.

Para que a investigação com utilização de animais seja ética e cientificamente rigorosa e autorizada nos termos da Diretiva, tem de cumprir normas de bem-estar exigentes e incorporar os 3Rs. Os 3Rs são:

  • Replacement (substituição) – métodos que evitam ou substituem a utilização de animais;
  • Reduction (redução) – métodos que minimizam o número de animais utilizados por experiência;
  • Refinement (refinamento) – métodos que minimizam qualquer sofrimento e melhoram o bem-estar animal.

Os desenvolvimentos de métodos alternativos à utilização de animais na investigação, como o uso de modelos de células humanas e modelação informática, continuam a progredir e os cientistas devem continuar a impulsioná-los. Contudo, os métodos alternativos não conseguem, atualmente, substituir integralmente a utilização de animais. Em muitas doenças, incluindo estados complexos como cancro, doença cardíaca e diabetes, que afetam vários órgãos, temos que entender como é que todo o organismo interage, o que significa que a investigação com a utilização de animais inteiros continua a ser essencial.

A investigação utilizando animais possibilitou grandes progressos no entendimento da biologia e contribuiu para o desenvolvimento de quase todos os tipos de tratamento utilizados atualmente na prática médica e veterinária. Atualmente, a investigação em animais continua a ser necessária para entender a saúde e a doença humana e animal, e para o desenvolvimento e melhoria de tratamentos para benefício de doentes a nível mundial.

Заявление в поддержку Директивы 2010/63/EU

Заявление в поддержку Европейской Директивы 2010/63/EU (Директива) о защите животных, используемых в научных целях.

Использование животных в научных исследованиях способствовало основным прорывам в медицине, которые обеспечивают здоровье людей и животных. Мы поддерживаем исследования на животных в тех случаях, когда альтернативные методы недоступны, когда потенциальная польза с точки зрения здоровья несомненна, и когда приемлемые этические стандарты и благополучие животных могут быть обеспечены.

Директива 2010/63/EU ужесточает требования к  благополучию животных и распространяет действие концепций улучшения (refinement), замещения (replacement) и уменьшения (reduction) (3R) на всю Европу, при этом ясно обозначая Европу в качестве мирового лидера биомедицинских исследований. В соответствии с Директивой животные могут быть использованы в исследованиях только в том случае, если медицинские, ветеринарные или научные достижения очевидны и не существует никаких действенных альтернатив. Чтобы исследование с использованием животных было приемлемо с этических и научных позиций и разрешено в соответствии с Директивой, оно должно отвечать высоким стандартам и концепции 3R:

  • Replacement (замещение) – методы, которые позволяют избежать или вовсе отказаться от использования животных;
  • Reduction – методы, которые позволяют уменьшить количество животных, используемых в эксперименте;
  • Refinement – методы, позволяющие избежать страданий животных и улучшить их благополучие.

Продолжается развитие методов, альтернативных использованию животных в экспериментах, таких как использование культур человеческих клеток и компьютерное моделирование, и ученые должны стимулировать этот процесс. Несмотря на это, в настоящее время альтернативы не способны полностью заменить животных в научных исследованиях. Для многих комплексных заболеваний, таких как рак, сердечно-сосудистые заболевания и диабет, которые затрагивают множество органов, мы должны понимать реакцию всего организма, как единого целого, что делает исследования на животных все еще необходимыми.

Исследования с использованием животных обеспечили появление основных достижений в области понимания биологических механизмов и внесли вклад в разработку едва ли не всех методов лечения, используемых в медицине и ветеринарии сегодня. В настоящее время исследования с использованием животных продолжают оставаться необходимыми для понимания здоровья человека и животных и для разработки и улучшения методов лечения пациентов по всему миру.