Tech UPTechnologyAnimal research will become increasingly transparent

Animal research will become increasingly transparent

Three years ago, in a context in which the European animal communities questioned the use of animals in scientific experiments, the Confederation of Scientific Societies of Spain (COSCE), presented an agreement in order to find a solution through of transparency. With the support of around 90 affiliated institutions and companies, the scientists promised to open the doors of Spanish laboratories to speak with clarity and detail on this sensitive issue.

The fundamental points to achieve this transparency are focused on having clarity why, when and how animals are used in science , providing the media and society in general with the information that needs to be made public, and promoting initiatives to increase the amount of informative material on this issue.

The first annual report was presented on September 5, 2018. On September 17, 2019, the second report was presented and the conclusion is clear: more and more scientific institutions report on their activity by experimenting with animals and also They explain the reasons why they do so within the existing ethical-legal framework. Of the 90 institutions that were part of the COSCE Agreement in the beginning, it has been increased to 140 as of September 17, 2019.

In the latest published report it is read that all the institutions that are part of the agreement explain on their respective web pages the policy they follow in relation to animal experimentation. Other examples of transparency that have been carried out are the interviews with researchers in which the subject of animal experimentation is discussed, the publication of videos and images of the facilities, animals and procedures , the open days, the organization of visits for students and the media to learn about animal facilities, participation in the media, giving talks in educational centers, developing policies to communicate the use of animals in experiments when faced with external questions, etc.

As Juan Lerma, member of Life Sciences and Health of the COSCE Board and coordinator of the commission that has drawn up the agreement, clarified in his day to Very Interesting Juan Lerma, “the reality is that scientists are continually trying to find other alternatives. It is true that there are tests in which, for example, cancer substances can be detected through cell lines, but they do not guarantee the same or are as effective. It also occurs when investigating consciousness and diseases that affect the brain, such as Alzheimer’s and autism”.

“85% of the species used belong to the order of rodents,” said Lerma, who added that the total number of animals given to research dropped considerably in 2015 compared to the previous year, thanks to the famous Principle of the 3 Rs (replace their use with other methods, reduce the number whenever possible and refine the procedure to minimize pain). In this sense, one of the points of the Agreement is to promote this principle and according to the 2019 report, some institutions have begun to take steps in that direction. The most common has been to use third-party examples and share their own with others to reduce the number of animals used in the experiments.

The expert insisted that the animals are kept in “ideal food and hygiene conditions” and that, among other aspects, they must be healthy so that the tests can be completely reliable. “It would not make sense to do an essay on depression with the help of an animal that is depressed.” In addition, when a research project is presented, it is strictly valued by the Scientific Committee and the Bioethics Committee, so permission must be requested and its use justified at all times. Lerma wanted to emphasize that, thanks to animal research , ” life expectancy has increased by 20.8 years in the last century.”

When the COSCE Agreement was born, the debate was rekindled on whether it is entirely necessary to benefit from animals to achieve advances in medicine and science in general, where ethical judgments come into play. In the words of the president of the Animalista Party PACMA , Silvia Barquero to Muy Interesante : “Only informed citizens will have the critical capacity to question whether what happens in the experimentation centers is ethical.” Likewise, he requested that “information also be provided, for the sake of transparency, of the investment that is being made to replace them with alternative methods .”

Thus, efforts must focus above all on replacing experiments with animals, “avoiding the suffering and death of millions of species in fields of experimentation as varied and expendable as the military, cosmetic and chemical industries “. For this reason, Barquero proposed that the European Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods receive the necessary investment to continue validating research with stem cells, in vitro methods, epidemiological studies or computer models.

On the other hand, Óscar Horta, professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at the University of Santiago de Compostela and member of the Animal Ethics Foundation, pointed out that an important part of the information and images of what happens in laboratories and animal houses has It has been obtained thanks to the investigations carried out by animal defense organizations , and is that “they are very difficult to achieve due to the enormous resistance of the companies and institutions that own them.” According to Horta, in a closed and opaque place the animals are “totally at the mercy of those who employ them.”

Regarding the content of the COSCE agreement, he expressed his dissatisfaction: “It is a mainly advertising measure that does not imply any change. In this, those in favor of the unrestricted use of animals must also agree, since this This measure has no impact on the legal framework of such use, nor will it end any procedure. “

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