Concordat logoIt’s been almost 18 months since the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research was launched with signatories from over 70 life science organisations, including the BIA. As of October 2015, 96 UK organisations, including universities, charities, commercial companies, research councils, umbrella bodies and learned societies have now committed to help the public understand more about animal research. In the blog below, we take a look at how the initiative is progressing, following the publication of its first annual report on 29 September.

In May 2014, 72 life science organisations became signatories to the Concordat on Openness on Animal Research in the UK, an initiative lead by Understanding Animal Research to enhance communication about animal research across the bioscience sector.

Openness on animal research is not new within the sector – prior to the Concordat, a number of organisations had already undertaken some fantastic examples of communication around the topic. The aim of the Concordat is culture change; creating a shared commitment and critical mass to encourage organisations to take strategic and practical steps towards greater openness.

The publication of the first annual report demonstrates many positive steps forward, with a number of signatories going above and beyond in their efforts to fulfil their role. From dedicated information areas on company websites, to organising lab visits for staff members and allowing the filming of animal research facilities, much has been achieved in the first year of the Concordat.

At a basic level, the inclusion of public facing statements and related material on company websites has made the information much more accessible for a lay-person. Moreover, following the success of many initiatives undertaken through the first year, the Concordat has provided organisations with the confidence to talk about animal research, thereby enabling greater transparency on the topic.

Beagles_animal_researchWith the European Citizens’ Initiative, Stop Vivisection, earlier this year and the ongoing UK Government e-petition against the recently approved beagle breeding facility in Yorkshire, animal research remains a hotly contested topic and such campaigns serve as a stark reminder of the importance of clear communication on the use of animals in research.

Whilst the progress over the past year is commendable, there remains much to do to instigate the desired culture change. The annual report sets out a number of recommendations to help take the initiative forward over the coming years. These include ensuring the harms and limitations, as well as the benefits, of animal research are discussed publically.

You can read the first Concordat on Openness in Animal Research Annual Report in full here. More information on the Concordat, including how to become a signatory, is available on the UAR website.

On Friday 20 November in London there will be an opportunity for company representatives to discuss communication around animal research, including challenges, opportunities and ideas for meeting the Concordat commitments. If you’re interested to find out more, please contact Zoe Freeman.