Reliable and transparent data are essential to discussions of suffering in animal experimentation. A new initiative in Germany provides user-friendly public information about authorized animal-research projects.

The European directive to protect laboratory animals (2010/63/EU) requires researchers to provide an anonymous, non-technical summary of a proposed project, stating its purpose and potential benefits. The summaries also detail the number and types of animal to be used, the predicted harm to the animals and the evidence of compliance with the '3R' principles (see The severity of animal suffering and the likely human benefits are central to the approval process.

Germany's Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has created a freely accessible, searchable website of these summaries to provide the public with clear insight into animal experiments (see Summaries are available to all EU member states, which could all set up similar open-access databases.

The summaries provide a unique channel for scientists to communicate their work to the public. They are a milestone in attempts to safeguard transparency in animal research, which is particularly controversial in the case of non-human primates.