Transparency Agreement for Animal Research launched

The campaign initiated by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and Tierversuche verstehen advocates for transparent information and open communication about animal experiments in research. The Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen is one of the first 53 research institutions to sign the campaign.

© Carmen Rotte / Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) and the information platform Tierversuche verstehen (Understanding Animal Research) of the Alliance of Scientific Organizations in Germany launched their Transparency Agreement for Transparent Information about animal research in Germany on July 1, 2021. In this initiative, research institutions from the field of life sciences agree to actively inform about animal experiments, to get involved in the public dialogue about animal research, and to exchange experiences and publicize activities.

In addition to the MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, the 53 initial signatories of the initiative include universities, hospitals, non-university research institutions, coorperations that conduct research as well as scholarly societies and funding organizations. More institutions are expected to follow. 

The initiative's website lists all signatories, provides examples of successful communication on animal experimentation, and offers information to help signatories achieve the stated goals. The initiative follows similar activities in other European countries such as the UK, France and Spain.

Transparent communication on a controversial topic
“Animal experiments are a topic that is subject to controversial public debate. This is why trans- parent communication about scientific and ethical aspects of animal research is of special im- portance in explaining to the general public that sadly not all animal experiments can be avoided in life science research to date. At the same time it must be emphasized that animal experiments are only carried out following comprehensive ethical consideration of the balance between scien- tific knowledge acquisition and potential suffering caused to the animals,” says DFG President Katja Becker. 

The chair of the DFG Senate Commission on Animal Protection and Experimentation, Brigitte Vollmar, is very pleased about the large number of initial signatories: “The Transparency Agreement is already supported by 53 research institutions! We are confident that many other organizations will fulfil their responsibility to provide transparent information about animal research, and will join the initiative. Support from the entire scientific community is vital to attach as much importance to the idea of transparency as possible.” 

Stefan Treue, head of the “Understanding Animal Research” steering group, thinks of the transparency initiative as another important step towards a more proactive approach to animal research: “The Alliance of Science Organizations in Germany launched the ‘Understanding Animal Research’ platform in 2016 to signal that the public interest in animal experiments is taken seriously, and to provide a foundation that enables everybody to deal with the issue based on solid and comprehensive information. The initiative launched today builds on this. We want to support the signatories in advancing their transparent and open discussion about animals in research.” The Transparent Animal Testing initiative joins various communication activities worldwide on July 1. 

Animal experiments remain indispensable
In line with the current state of research, animal experiments are an important component of the spectrum of experimental methods in biomedical research. Animal research is essential to gain fundamental knowledge and to allow for medically relevant development. 

Although recent methodological studies showed that some animal experiments can be replaced or reduced by using alternative methods, a complete abolition of animal experiments is currently not in sight. Suchexperiments will also be necessary in the future, to gain knowledge and to develop new therapeutic approaches and methods. 

About the DFG Senate Commission on Animal Protection and Experimentation
The Senate Commission is an interdisciplinary committee of experts that is dedicated to the latest scientific developments and the complex ethical and legal framework of animal welfare and animal research. It provides advice to the committees of the DFG, as well as policy-makers and authorities. 

Dr. Carmen Rotte
Press and Public Relations,
Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry
+49 551 201-1304