Tag Archives: Concordat on Openness on Animal Research

Call for Australia and New Zealand biomedical sector to follow Europe and be more open about animal research

‘We are lagging behind on openness about animal research’ say vets and lab technicians.

A survey of Australian and New Zealand vets and technicians who care for animals, used in medical and veterinary research, has shown that most believe scientific institutions should be more open about animal use.

They are also supportive of a public pledge, similar to those found in European countries, to commit Australian and New Zealand institutions to greater openness.

The survey by the Australian and New Zealand Laboratory Animal Association (ANZLAA) of more than 150 people working in animal care has found that 87% believe research institutions in Australia and New Zealand should be more open about their research involving animals.

Speaking at this week’s ANZLAA conference in Perth, Australia, veterinarians Dr Malcolm France and Dr Jodi Salinsky said that 87 per cent of survey respondents wanted research organisations to be more open and would support the development of an ‘openness agreement’ similar to the UK’s successful Concordat on Openness on Animal Research.

The Concordat has seen over 120 of the UK’s top scientific bodies implement initiatives to give the public a better idea of what actually happens in an animal research setting.

Similar agreements are now in place in Spain and Portugal, with Belgium and Switzerland likely to have agreements in place by the end of 2019.

“Although several other countries have their own version based on the UK model or are actively working on it, we are lagging well behind in Australia and New Zealand,” said Dr France. “There are definitely some organisations that have been commendably proactive about openness in this part of the world, but most are still hesitant and there is nothing in place at a national level to encourage greater openness.”

Speaking in response, Kirk Leech, Executive Director of the European Animal Research Association (EARA), said: “This is a welcome initiative by ANZLAA.”

“Transparency agreements in Europe have provided far greater awareness of the importance of explaining more clearly to the general public why animal research is the only option for testing new drugs and how it has played a part in all the major treatments for diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.”

EARA, the communications and advocacy organisation for scientific research using animals in Europe, is working with biomedical associations in several European countries. It was instrumental in helping to set up the Spanish Transparency Agreement which now has 140 members, from both public and private research.

Drs France and Salinsky agreed that while animal research may be ethically contentious, the UK Concordat has seen some impressive efforts to present the public with better information to draw their own conclusions. Institutions signing up to the Concordat typically have a website giving details of the number and species of animals they use and then provide crucial context by explaining the goals of the research and how animals are cared for. Some have gone much further with initiatives like virtual tours of animal facilities or public open days.

The survey also found the respondents believed that the public don’t realise how much is done to support the welfare of animals and that there is much false information that needs correcting.

Dr France said “a sad consequence of the lack of openness is the negative impact it has on those who provide day-to-day care for the animals. Most animal technicians choose their vocation because they love animals. Even if they have mixed feelings about animal research, they are determined to see the animals receive the best possible care. Unfortunately, they are often reluctant to talk about their work because they fear a negative reaction based on public misunderstanding and outdated images in anti-vivisection campaign material.”

Dr Salinsky agreed adding that “Greater openness would help give well-earned recognition to these dedicated individuals, increase public understanding of animal research and highlight the effort made to ensure the welfare of the animals.”

Most animal technicians are drawn to their vocation by a love of animals and a desire to ensure the best possible welfare for animals used in research.

Available for interview:

Malcolm France [Tel 0401 719 456; email malcolm.p.france@gmail.com
Jodi Salinsky [Tel +64 211 431 996; email j.salinsky@auckland.ac.nz]

Notes to editors:

Research on animals is highly regulated around the world. In Australia, research that involves the use of animals must be conducted according to the Australian Code for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes which is enforced by State and Territory legislation. In New Zealand, animal research is regulated under the Animal Welfare Act and must be conducted according to an approved Code of Ethical Conduct. In both countries, any research project that will involve animals must first be approved and is then subject to ongoing monitoring by an Animal Ethics Committee, the membership of which must include veterinarians, laypersons and animal welfare advocates external to the institution.

The principle of ‘The 3Rs’ (Reduction, Replacement and Refinement of animals used in research) are emphasised in the regulatory framework governing animal research in Australia and New Zealand. Although there are some alternatives to using animals, they are not yet sophisticated enough to replace animals in many scientific studies.

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 60 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

The benefits of animal research
Most of the medicines we have come from animal research. Often science doesn’t need to use animals, but for many key questions they are crucial. They will help millions with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease, spinal cord damage and parasitic infections like malaria. There are three main reasons why animals are used in research:

  • To advance scientific understanding,
  • To develop solutions to medical problems,
  • To test medicines and vaccines in order to protect the safety of people, animals and the environment.

Animals are used when there is a need to find out what happens in the whole living body, which is far more complex than the sum of its parts. It is very difficult, and in most cases simply not yet possible, to develop non-animal methods to replace the use of living animals.

Top ten UK universities for animal research announced

 A list of the ten UK universities that conduct the highest number of animal procedures has been published by Understanding Animal Research (UAR).

The statistics have been gathered from figures found on the universities’ websites as part of their ongoing commitment to transparency and openness.

The ten institutions collectively conducted over one third of all UK animal research in 2017 all have signed up to the Concordat on Openness on Animals Research.

The top three in the list are University of Oxford (236,429 procedures), University of Edinburgh (225,366) and University College London (214,570).

Wendy Jarrett, chief executive of UAR, said: “The Concordat has fostered a culture of openness at research institutions up and down the UK.

“Almost two-thirds of the university Concordat signatories provide their animal numbers openly on their websites – accounting for almost 90% of all animal research at UK universities.“


Great Britain’s biomedical research statistics for 2017 indicate fewer animals used for second consecutive year

The latest figures released by the Home Office show a decrease in the overall use of animals in biomedical research in Great Britain’s public and private institutions.

These statistics for 2017 were presented to the UK Parliament under the terms of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 and demonstrate the continuing commitment of the British biomedical sector to openness and transparency about animal research, combined with an ongoing commitment to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals for every project, commonly known as the 3Rs.

The figures show that 3,789,373 experimental procedures were conducted in Great Britain [1] in 2017, 3.7% fewer than in 2016. Over 96% of the procedures on animals involved mice, fish, rats and birds while cats, dogs and non-human primates accounted for less than 0.2% of studies.

There was a significant fall in the number of procedures on dogs (3847 procedures) and on primates (2960 procedures), the lowest number for over 40 years for both species. Continue reading

Transparency Agreement on animal research in Portugal

The Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Portugal (‘Acordo de Transparência sobre Investigação Animal em Portugal) is a collaborative project by EARA and the Portuguese Society of Sciences in Laboratory Animals (SPCAL).

This is an initiative inspired by the Transparency Agreement in Spain, launched at 2016 where EARA co-operated with the Federation of Spanish Scientific Societies (COSCE) and by the UK Concordat on Openness on Animal Research. At the launch on June 21, 2018, the Transparency Agreement was signed by 16 institutions including Research Centres and Universities from across Portugal. 

By signing up to the Portuguese Transparency Agreement, the signatories agree to the following obligations:
– Make a declaration concerning animal welfare on the Institution’s website.
– Link to the Transparency Agreement.
– provide adequate information to the media and the general public on the conditions under which animal research is carried out and the results obtained.
– Develop initiatives that promote greater knowledge and understanding of society on the use of animals in scientific research.
– Report on progress achieved on an annual basis and share experiences.

View here all the organisations that have signed the agreement to date.


With the Transparency Agreement, EARA and SPCAL aim to work together to foster a climate of openness around animal research in Portugal. The four commitments ensure that the Transparency Agreement is an actionable document, which signatories can use to guide their progress toward openness on animal research.

This agreement builds on work in Portugal that began in 2017. A number of Portuguese research institutes met to discuss how to improve the Portuguese public’s understanding and acceptance of animal research. At this meeting were representatives from the Faculty of Sciences and Faculty of Pharmacy of the University of Lisbon, Nova Medical School Lisbon, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, the Instituto de Medicina Molecular and the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown. At the meeting EARA proposed to explore the possibility of developing a Transparency Agreement to guide efforts on openness on animal research in Portugal.

If your institution wishes to support this initiative and sign the Transparency Agreement, or if you have any questions, please contact:
– Ana Barros, EARA co-ordinator, abarros@eara.eu
– Bob Tolliday, EARA Communications Coordinator, btolliday@eara.eu 00 44 (0) 7715525535
– Ricardo Afonso, President of the Portuguese Society of Sciences in Laboratory Animals (SPCAL), acordotransparencia@spcal.pt

A trans-Atlantic transparency gap on animal experiments

This article was originally published in Science on 14 July 2017

The launch last month of a website called LabAnimalTour.org, which showcases animal experiments at several prominent institutions in the United Kingdom, is part of a trend toward increasing openness by researchers in a country that 2 decades ago was riven by sometimes-violent animal rights activism.

Since 2014, 116 life sciences organizations in the United Kingdom have signed onto a Concordat on Openness on Animal Research that commits them to communicating frankly and in detail about their animal experiments. Ninety Spanish institutions adopted a similar pledge last year, and universities in Belgium, France, and Germany are talking about moving in the same direction. Continue reading