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Animal Testing Timeline

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 9 Apr 2022 | comments*Discuss
Animal Testing Timeline Cosmetics

Although there are various references to animal testing prior to the nineteenth century, these are not well documented. The first major reference to animal testing occurred in the late nineteenth century when Louis Pasteur administered anthrax to sheep and showed the importance of vaccines with his germ theory. Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory in the mid 1850s also served to suggest that animals could serve as effective models to facilitate biological understanding in humans. Other cases of animal testing include psychological experiments such as the one by Ivan Pavlov in the late nineteenth century. He conducted experiments on dogs to demonstrate how dogs could be conditioned with regards to memory and repetitive tasks.

Animal Testing Breakthroughs

An enormous breakthrough came in 1922 when animal testing allowed for insulin to be isolated from dogs. Prior to this isolation, individuals with diabetes essentially 'wasted' away from the metabolic effects of uncontrolled high blood sugar. In the 1930s, modern anaesthetics and antibiotics were developed from the use of animal testing. In addition, anticoagulants and kidney dialysis, both life-saving treatments, were introduced following animal testing.

Continued Use of Animal Testing

It was also during this time that primate labs were set up. The 1950s saw animal testing aiding in the development of vaccines. The other developments related to animal testing that occurred throughout the rest of the century are too numerous to describe but include many potent cancer drugs as well as drugs for HIV that were developed in the latter quarter of the twentieth century. Also notorious was the cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1996. This cloning did, however, still bring much debate with it due to ethical dilemmas surrounding cloning. Animal testing peaked mostly during the 1980s and has since been on the decline. The decline is primarily due to increased regulations that make it more difficult to gain approval for animal testing. Another reason for the decline is from the introduction of animal testing alternatives where appropriate.

Initial Animal Testing Regulations

Britain's input into animal testing began quite early, with the Cruelty to Animals Act introduced in 1876, which was an attempt to regulate animal testing. Later, the Animals Scientific Procedures Act replaced it in 1986. There was still an earlier act although not specific to animal experimentation in general. Britain passed the Cruel Treatment of Cattle Act in 1822 to prevent cruel and unnecessary treatment of cattle. Although not specific to animal testing, it did still signify the acknowledgment of animal cruelty and was an initial attempt to place parameters and consequences around poor treatment of animals.

Animal Testing on Cosmetics

Animal testing on cosmetics is still a relatively new concept, given that this type of testing only began in the first quarter of the twentieth century. After an incident where a woman's personal use of a mascara darkener went awry, leaving her with burning eyes and ultimately - blindness - the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act in 1938. Britain similarly conducted animal testing for cosmetics until outlawing all cosmetics related animal testing in 1998. The European Union has followed suit with an intended ban on animal testing for cosmetics to be performed by 2009. In the United States, Revlon and Avon were two of the first large companies to halt all cosmetics testing on animals. Some critics, however, have argued that the key ingredients in cosmetics formulations have already been tested on animals. Therefore, their safety is well established, which means that it's 'easier' for companies to find alternatives to test product formulations because most active ingredients have already been approved.

Moving Ahead

The timeline of animal testing clearly shows the scarce beginnings that soon increased, with a peak in the 1980s before declining until the current time. It is likely that the use of animals will either decrease or - at the very least - stabilise as alternatives are developed to animal testing. It is also expected that animal testing will yield additional breakthrough drugs, which offer improved quality of life and hope for people with some of the most devastating diseases today.

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Why can't we just use dead animals instead of real live animals? The dead animals can't feel the pain.
hiya! - 9-Apr-22 @ 5:22 AM
yall people crazy! idc if they treated right or not, NO ANIMAL should be tested on. yall dumb. It should be banned. if you gon test something, test it on ya selves instead of putting humans and animals in danger. if yall needa test it that bad, find people that are willing to do it becuase this ain't it.
kaykay - 24-Oct-20 @ 2:41 AM
animal testing is wr - 23-Sep-19 @ 6:44 AM
While I do agree that animal testing is not the best way, I have to agree with an earlier commenter(Jacob) I too have been to a lab and what happens is normally very peaceful, the animals are treated well and are only being tested on a couple of minutes a day. From what I've seen the animals (if showing any sign of discomfort or pain) are then taken out and helped as much as possible before more testing or anything stressful. Now I'm not saying this goes for all labs but I do believe that many of these testing locations are very respectful and understand just what they are doing
Karlie - 29-May-19 @ 12:38 AM
thanks for thanos keeping everything onn balance
bigboi tex - 24-Apr-19 @ 2:59 PM
this site is cruel - 8-Apr-19 @ 5:58 PM
Animal lab testing is acceptable and advanced the greater good of the world
Prof.Ford - 7-Mar-19 @ 1:32 PM
hi guys i just wanted to say this is my favourite website and favourote article it helped me so much
jk - 14-Dec-18 @ 2:52 PM
ANIMAL TESTING IS WRONG!!!! I would rather die fromdisease a disease than have an animal suffering though these terrible test
Animalluvr - 4-Aug-18 @ 5:11 AM
Animal testing is wrong in every way! I would rather die than any animal get harmed or mistreated. There is a special place in hell for people who test products on innocent animals
Kayla - 9-Jul-18 @ 2:06 AM
I would rather die of the flu then see bad things happen to an animal
Ban animal testing - 7-May-18 @ 3:51 PM
just stop testing animals it's just not right.
D4bby - 3-Mar-18 @ 5:13 PM
you animal testers can gtfo, there are many other things we can use other than animals, stop being lazy and look it up
Dr. Whupass - 5-Dec-17 @ 7:06 PM
Guessing everybody in the comment section accept like two people just came on here to shove their opinions about the topic down other people's throats rather than to actually addressing the article and talking about the history of animal testing. No one cares about your fake statistics, and if they do they sure aren't looking here for them. Like jesus, I'm just here for a school project and was bobarded with an overwhelming ammont of stupidity the moment I scrolled anywhere under half way down the screen. The site literally says: Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice.. above the comment section and only ONE of you fools actually did any of those three things. I know that's hipocrytical but seriously this is just sad. Also why are there two periods I don't think that is right.
Share Your Story, Jo - 27-Aug-17 @ 12:09 AM
Ratata - 10-Apr-17 @ 1:14 PM
Many businesses test their products on different animals, Over 100 million animals are burned, crippled, poisoned, and abused in US labs every year.
rahting - 16-Mar-17 @ 9:12 AM
People in the comments, stop lying, you aren't an expert (I'm looking at you Vicki), cite some evidence or refrain from mindless babble in the comment section.
Cite Evidence - 30-Jan-17 @ 6:14 PM
This is so wrong this needs to stop. we have given other countries the idea to eat man's frickin best friend. this is ridiculous.
panda - 6-Jun-16 @ 11:35 PM
Animal testing is antiquated, obsolete and highly ineffective!! What it is... Is cheap!! Which is why it has continued when every other industry has progressed over the past 100 years, vivisection has NOT!!!! What other industry do you know that operates the same way as in the early 1900s??? None?? Which is why we should be moving on to more effective types of testing Animal tests are 80% INCORRECT! Human Tissue samples are 100% correct as they are from THE SAME SPECIES!! This is an industry that should be long forgotten It's up to us to make sure it is "We are judged as a nation by how we treat our animals" Ghandi said.. Well we don't look too good at the moment do we??!
Vicki - 11-Apr-16 @ 3:20 AM
I fully understand peoples disagreement with animal testing and if there was a separate way to test our drugs then that should be used, that being said i have been to an animal testing lab myself and seen first hand that the majority of these allegations that animal are constantly in small cages and suffer for the entirety of their is false. the actual "testing" part of the animals is a few minutes long, the rest of the day they spend being monitored and have multiple set times where they are played with. the people who test the animals fully know what a healthy animal should behave like and act like, at the first sight of pain they are put down. i know this is not the nicest thought but the animals do not show any sign fear toward the handlers, they are not in the conditions that most of us believe they are in, they have toys, beds. i simply think people need to know the full truth about animal testing before they jump to conclusions
jacob - 11-Mar-16 @ 12:19 PM
Stop animal testing! Scientist already have enough information on what chemicals we humans will react to. We don't have to test on animals. If it's for humans wouldn't we get a better results if we testing on humans. Just because animals don’t have a voice it doesn’t mean we should abuse their rights!
Amy - 3-Mar-16 @ 9:00 AM
Animal testing is wrong. Humans deserve to be treated the way animals are treated, because we are the ones being selfish and greedy and harming those who have done nothing to us. Did a rabbit ever pour a stinging liquid into your eyes to document your injuries before dumping YOU into a garbage can? No. I didn't think so. Unless you can think of a damn good reason to keep hurting and killing innocent animals, I think we're done here. :(
Cara - 8-Feb-16 @ 8:48 PM
every year 12 million innocent animals die locked in cages that 137 animals every 10 minutes! There are cheaper and less violent ways to do tests and anyways 92% of the time it works on animals it fails on humans. I want to make a difference in this world, so should you.
anonymous - 13-Jan-16 @ 9:07 PM
I am for animal testing. Had animal testing never been done, we wouldn't be living today. We wouldn't know how the human body works or what it even has! Considering the world today, animal testing is carried out under strict requirements; animals are the only species closest to humans. If not animal testing, what do you expect them to test on? Plants? That would be surely of no use to humans. For those against animal testing, would you volunteer to be injected with a disease, that may kill you, so scientists can search for a cure?
Hayden - 30-Aug-15 @ 6:36 PM
Animal testing should be banned no matter what. It's not used for animals, so why should they be tested on it? 75% of the effects can't even be seen in animals other than humans!
sam - 9-Aug-15 @ 11:45 PM
When did animal testing start, and where is it going on?
SSL - 16-Mar-15 @ 7:18 PM
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