Press release

Wellcome Trust signs Declaration of Openness on animal research

The Wellcome Trust has joined leading charities, universities and pharmaceutical companies in signing a Declaration of Openness on animal research.

The Declaration, announced today at a press briefing in London, commits the organisations to work together over the coming months to develop principles of openness, practical steps and measurable objectives that will underpin a more transparent approach to animal research.

The announcement coincided with the publication of a poll, carried out on behalf of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills by Ipsos MORI, which showed that although two-thirds of the public still support animal experimentation for medical research, this figure has fallen slightly since the previous survey in 2010-11.

Sir Mark Walport, director of the Wellcome Trust, says: "This poll clearly demonstrates that a majority of the public supports experiments involving animals when these are necessary to advance medical research. But it also reminds us that we must communicate openly with the public if we are to maintain this high level of trust.

"There are understandable reasons why some members of the research community have been reluctant to speak out in the past, in the face of intimidation. The Government has acted firmly and helped build an environment in which it is safer to carry out and to speak out about animal research. It is now up to us - funders, academia and industry - to build on this and create a culture of greater openness and transparency, through an agreement that will spell out the responsibilities of every part of the scientific community."

The full text of the declaration is as follows:

"The life sciences sector is at the forefront of developing ground breaking treatments and cures which transform the lives of humans and animals. To do this we need to increase understanding of normal biological functions and disease. Where possible, we use cells grown in a lab, computer models and human volunteers. When this isn't possible, research may involve animals. When we need to use animals, we strive to reduce the number needed, and seek to develop viable alternatives.

"Public acceptance of the use of animals in research has been strong over the last decade. Public scrutiny has also played an essential role in building the world-leading ethical framework that supports our research and ensures it meets the highest welfare standards, only using animals where no alternative exists.

"Confidence in our research rests on the scientific community embracing an open approach and taking part in an ongoing conversation about why and how animals are used in research and the benefits of this. We need to continue to develop open dialogue between the research community and the public.

"We, the undersigned, commit to work together to establish a Concordat that will develop principles of openness, practical steps and measurable objectives which will underpin a more transparent approach to animal research."