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Survey reveals great progress made by biomedical research sector in Spain to be more open about animal research

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.

See also El Pais: Labs that experiment with animals start to lift veil of secrecy

Images from the Applied Biomedical Experimental Research (CREBA) in Lleida.

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Notes to editors

About EARA
The European Animal Research Association (EARA) is an organisation that communicates and advocates on biomedical research using animals and provides accurate, evidence-based information. It also takes responsibility for the choice and sustainability in the global transport of animals for medical research. It has more than 70 partner organisations, including private and public research bodies, universities, regional and national biomedical associations and suppliers, across 14 European countries.
EARA’s vision is to enhance the understanding and recognition of research involving animals across Europe, allowing for a more constructive dialogue with all stakeholders and a more efficient climate for research in Europe www.eara.eu

About COSCE
The Confederation of Scientific Societies of Spain is the result an initiative in begun in 2003 and brings together 82 scientific societies representing more than 40,000 members. The purpose of COSCE, are to contribute to the scientific and technological development of Spain; advocate on issues that affect science and promote the role of science and contribute to its dissemination.

Case study examples of openness

Visits of journalists to the National Biotechnology Center
After launching the COSCE agreement for transparency in animal experimentation, there were media requests from LaSextaTV and El Mundo to visit the facilities of the National Biotechnology Center (CNB-CSIC) in Madrid. With the authorisation of the head of animal welfare at the center, Ángel Naranjo, who facilitated the access of the journalists to the animal center, the researcher Lluís Montoliu showed various areas where the mice, used in research as animal models of diseases, are housed. For example, the editors and news cameras of LaSextaTV were permitted to stay as long as they needed, ask the questions they wanted and visit every area, while maintaining the criteria of security and protection of the animals housed there.
LaSextaTV
El Mundo

Visit and practices of students of the UCM and UAX in the Animation Service of CIEMAT
In the spring of 2018 several groups of students of the Complutense University of Madrid (Faculty of Biology) and Alfonso X University (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine) visited the facilities of CIEMAT and had their first contact with animal research. Jesús Martínez, Head of Animal Welfare at CIEMAT said: “In these visits – the response of students, who are closely linked to the world of scientific research for their studies – was striking, when they were shown the high standards of accommodation, welfare, supervision and control of research animals in our facilities. I think that for the students it is a very interesting and clarifying experience to dispel preconceived ideas.”

Visits and training at the Applied Biomedical Experimental Research Center (CREBA)
At the Center for Applied Biomedical Experimental Research (CREBA) in Lleida, visits are frequently made with schoolchildren, university students, and groups of professionals. In recent months students have been received from the Lestonnac school in Lleida, the Alfred Potrony de Térmens (Lleida), the agricultural school of Vallfogona de Balaguer (Lleida) and the Medical Facility of this province. They have also received a group of members of the Official College of Nursing.

In all the visits there is a presentation on the use of animals in research and training – particularly the research at CREBA. The stabling area is shown through cameras in real time. Then a visit to the surgical block is carried out, explaining the usefulness of each area and equipment. “The experience is very enriching for both parties. For students and teachers, because they enter a world that they have never had access to, and that helps them to begin to understand the information they receive from other sources, and for CREBA staff, because it gives us the opportunity to explain our work and to shift the opinions of young people”, says Dolores García Olmo, Technical Director of CREBA.

Transparency Agreement on Animal Research launched in Spain

A Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain was launched yesterday in Madrid. The Acuerdo de transparencia sobre el uso de animales en experimentación científica en España (lit. ‘Transparency agreement on the use of animals in scientific experimentation in Spain’), has been developed by Spain’s Confederation of Scientific Societies (COSCE) in collaboration with EARA. 

The Spanish document has been developed based on the UK Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. Similar to the UK Concordat, the Agreement outlines four commitments for research centres in Spain to provide more information about animal research at their institutions.

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