3. THE NEED FOR AN ORGANIZATION IN THE NATIONAL SETTING
In Spain, despite the existence of a considerable number of people actively involved in the use and/or development of alternative methods, and the adoption by different groups and societies of numerous scientific initiatives related to the subject (Table 1), no organization has yet been established to serve as a connection between the scientific societies and groups on one hand and the Administration, Industry and general Society on the other. The aim of the Spanish Network for the Development of Alternative Methods (REMA)(Red Española para el Desarrollo de Métodos Alternativos, REMA) is to fill this gap.
The human component that may potentially form part of the REMA comprises an important number of qualified experts. In individual terms, a number of qualified Spanish members are active in organisms such as the ECVAM (member of the Scientific Board), the European Society of in vitro Toxicology (Chairman of the Scientific Board), the European Tissue Culture Association, EUROTOX (vocal), ERGATT (representative), the ICLAS Working Group on Complementary Methods (coordinator), representatives on the Expert Committees for the evaluation of toxicity and ecotoxicity of chemical substances (DGV), carcinogenicity, mutagenicity and reproductive toxicology (DGXI), the European Chemical Bureau (working group on environmental effects), the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) and the OCDE. In global terms, such participation in different organisms constitutes an important presence.
On the other hand, emphasis should be placed on the sometimes biased notion of society regarding researchers who do not seem to be concerned about solving problems or appear scantly sensitive to the needs of business. Industry in turn comes under pressure from two sides: the Administration and regulating organisms in general - which are in turn influenced by the consumer population. These organisms require increasingly demanding studies of the safety of products commercialized by the industrial sector. In this sense, although normalized toxicological trials in animals appear to be inadequate for preventing all toxic effects, they are presently the only officially accepted option for conducting such safety studies. At the same time, however, Industry is pressured to reduce or replace animal trials, with the proposal (as in the case of the cosmetics industry) to establish a deadline for the prohibition of trials in animals.
The Administration in turn frequently attends international forums where decisions are taken that condition legislation. In this sense it would be desirable for such activities to include expert counseling from both scientific and business circles - thereby contributing to better defend our interests.
The above considerations point to the need for an Organization capable of coordinating efforts and channeling activities concerning alternative methods in our country.