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Animal instinct

9 December 2010

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Category: Communications & media

nature–website.jpgFollowing directly from the Basel Declaration that we covered on Tuesday, an editorial in Nature, 9 December 2010, has urged German science to set up an organisation like Understanding Animal Research to engage the public on the medical benefits of animal research. We can't do better than quote Nature directly:

'Germany does not have a national organization such as Understanding Animal Research to manage and maintain this public outreach. Now is the time that it should....

The solution must be a single, non-partisan national office that can implement the principles of the Basel Declaration. It need not be large — Understanding Animal Research has only nine staff — but it needs to be professional. Busy researchers do not have the time or the lobbying skills to organize long-term concerted action. Who should pay? When it comes to the defence of research in Germany in general, the research organizations and universities band together as the formidable Alliance of German Science Organizations — the 'Allianz'. Successive governments have deferred to it, and have committed to long-term funding increases even in times of financial crisis.

The Allianz is the appropriate body to create and fund a German organization analogous to Understanding Animal Research. Including industry might breed distrust. The Basel Declaration has shown that animal researchers in Germany are willing to go public. A small investment by all members of the Allianz would bolster this new solidarity and serve as insurance for Germany's biomedical effort and for the new biomedical industries that are springing up.

The animal issue has an intrinsically emotive nature and is never going to go away. To keep the public ignorant of the benefits of animal research — without which it is currently impossible to develop any new therapies — was never a solution.'