Madrid, 17 September, 2019: The Spanish biomedical sector has made greater strides towards openness about the use of animals in scientific research in the last year than ever before, according to a new report by the European Animal Research Association (EARA),.
Among the clear signs of this openness, the survey results from the second annual report (in Spanish) of COSCE (Confederation of Spanish Scientific Societies) Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain, shows that every institution signatory of the Agreement now has a public declaration on their website explaining their policies on the use of animals.
Launched in 2016, the Transparency Agreement on Animal Research in Spain, has been signed by 140 institutions and contains four commitments to provide greater information about the scientific research using animals that they conduct, as well as to improve the level of understanding about the benefits, harms and limitations that animal testing can entail.
The report was conducted by EARA, which along with the Spanish Association for Laboratory Animal Science (SECAL) helped COSCE to develop the Agreement.
“Scientific institutions, in the Agreement, no longer hide or are ashamed about their research with animals and they are clearly explaining to society what their activity is and that they do it ethically,” says Margarita del Val, Vocal of Life and Health Sciences of COSCE.
Among the activities that institutions reported as examples of openness and transparency were student and school visits, exhibitions and open days, videos and further information on animal research on their websites (see case study examples in Notes to Editors).
Overall, nearly all institutions that responded (96%) believe that the Agreement is an important step for biomedical research in Spain and 86% believe it will lead to real improvements in openness in their own institution.
Other notable responses from the survey (completed by 104 signatory institutions) included:
• 104 institutions (76% of the signatories) completed the survey compared to 62 last year (53% of the signatories at that time).
• 80% of the institutions surveyed offered the possibility of visits by the general public. Some institutions also offered the possibility of a virtual tour. For example: Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla IBiS https://youtu.be/ZqIDIaisFYc
• 79% of institutions report on their scientific advances publicly and mention when animals were used in the research.
• 71 % of institutions that use animals confirm that they have hosted visits by students or non- research staff from other institutions
EARA Board member, Javier Guillén, said: “More institutions that ever before in Spain have begun to explain why they use animals in biomedical research and how this is of value to society as a whole and this second annual report illustrates this clearly.
“However, the information collected also reflects that more progress is still needed as not all institutions have yet begun to carry out transparency activities beyond institutional declarations.”
In the survey, some institutions were still uncertain how they could get help to meet the aims of the three commitments and therefore this year a separate document, which includes a large number of examples and case studies has been distributed to all 140 signatory institutions.
Notes to editors
According to the latest data published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAMA), in 2017 there were 802,976 uses of animals for scientific and teaching purposes in Spain.
Openness case study ‘Animal research
The Spanish Society for Laboratory Animal Sciences (SECAL) used World Day for Laboratory Animals (24 April), as an opportunity to communicate on animal research. EARA Member SECAL, created a video (in Spanish) with examples on the benefits of the biomedical animal research. The message in the video “La experimentación animal da vida” (Animal research gives life) was repeated by board members of SECAL. Research institutions from Spain and Latin America (including EARA’s Spanish Twitter feed) shared the video on social media with the hashtag #LaExperimentaciónAnimaldaVida.
1/Examples of transparency related to the first commitment:
Science with meaning exhibition
The Aragon Institute of Health Sciences (IACS) in collaboration with Etopia Center for Art and Technology , designed an exhibition based on exploring science through the senses. Research with animals comprises an important part of the content.
Why animals matter: arguments about animal research
By way of frequently asked questions (FAQs), one of the SECAL Working Groups has prepared an document with 12 questions and answers about animal research.
2/Examples of transparency related to the second commitment:
Transparency webpages at institutions
University of Zaragoza https://portaltransparencia.unizar.es/investigacion-transferencia
Miguel Hernandez University
University of Oviedo http://www.uniovi.es/investigacion/servicios/etica/transparencia
Instituto de Biomedicina de Sevilla IBiS https://youtu.be/ZqIDIaisFYc
3/Examples of transparency related to the third commitment:
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 80 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 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 t
 The four commitments of the Agreement are:
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 their experiences of openness.