Animals in open light

May 15, 2014

It is a great shame that Michelle Thew from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (Letters, 8 May) seeks to pour scorn on universities’ moves to be more open about the animal research they conduct. The section of the legislation covering animal research in the UK that was introduced to protect researchers from the violence visited upon them by extremists is now being reconsidered by the government to further improve transparency.

Thankfully, the threat to researchers has greatly diminished, and it is time not only to reform the law but also to encourage more openness in the animal research community. This is what the Concordat on Openness is all about. As Understanding Animal Research told the Commons Justice Committee in 2012: “We believe that more information about animal research should proactively be made available to the public, while safeguarding information which could be used by extremists to target individuals and institutions.” I hope that the BUAV would agree that this is a fair compromise that recognises public bodies’ legal requirements to safeguard the safety of their employees.

The concordat commits its signatories to providing accurate descriptions of the benefits, harms and limitations of animal research, as well as to being open about such research’s impact on animal welfare and the ethical considerations involved. Why are animal rights groups nervous about openness? What are they worried about their supporters discovering? That all veterinary treatments are developed using animal research? That more than 97 per cent of research involves mice, fish, rats or birds? That half of all experiments relate to the breeding of GM mice?

For groups that rely on giving their own account of what goes on inside animal research facilities, openness is a real threat. Let’s show people the reality of the groundbreaking research that is being done on their behalf so that they can make up their own minds.

Wendy Jarrett
Chief executive
Understanding Animal Research

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Laurel and Hardy sawing a plank of wood

Working with other academics can be tricky so follow some key rules, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations