The Spanish National Platform on Alternatives, REMA (Red Española de Métodos Alternativos), was formally created by the end of 1999. It was the result of an initiative of several Spanish scientists from the academia and the industry who committed themselves to potentiate the development and implementation of alternative methods in the scientific and industrial world in Spain. REMA was among the first national platforms to be integrated in ecopa, where one of its members holds the vice-presidency (J.V. Castell)
The starting point was certainly not easy in a country like Spain, where the social perception towards animal welfare issues was at that time still weak. Being aware of the importance of getting first scientists convinced about the need of implementing a more rational and humane use of animals in health research, the official foundation of REMA took place in the course of a scientific event at the Ministry of Health in Madrid. Representatives of the most relevant scientific societies, industrial organizations and animal welfare organizations took part in that event, that projected towards the Spanish society a clear message about the willingness of REMA of bringing together Academia, Industry, Government and Animal Welfare, in order to work for an effective implementation of the 3R’s on a basis of a consensus scientific and social dialog. It was made clear from the very beginning that the major goal of REMA would be that of creating and sustaining a permanent network integrating the different stakeholders, as well to serve as a vehicle to bridge the different parties involved in the use of experimental animals. As an independent organization, REMA has focused its activity in different fields promoting the 3R’s in research, development and teaching in Spain.
In the past recent time, REMA has been involved in several relevant initiatives both at national as well international level. Being part of the European project CONAM, coordinated by ecopa, the Spanish platform organised and carried out theoretical-practical courses specifically devoted to members of Local Committees on Experimental Animal Ethics.
REMA is a qualified partner in the European project ForInvitox which will last from 2007 to 2008, and is aimed at bringing together in vitro methods designers, users and producers, in a unique initiative across Europe.
REMA collaborates with several Spanish scientific societies, by sponsoring scientific sessions on alternatives at their respective national congresses (i.e., SECAL, Sociedad Española de Ciencias del Animal de Laboratorio, AET, Asociación Española de Toxicología, SEBBM, Sociedad Española de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular). On top of that, awards for the best scientific presentations on alternatives in several national congresses are currently offered to young researchers.
Two years ago, REMA undertook the goal of creating a Spanish Register for individuals active in alternative methods, that has now been finalised. Presently, more than 600 persons receive updated information about the 3R’s through active e-mailing and linking to the website.
Finally, REMA has become a recognised consultant for the Spanish Government in terms of implementation of legal regulations on animal use.
José V. Castell and A. Cerain