Animals have been used in science since the 4th century BCE with Aristotle performing one of the first documented experiments.. In 1876, the British parliament passed the first ever Cruelty to Animals Act, aimed at regulating animal testing. However, advancements in science since that time has meant that the numbers of animals used in research has actually expanded.
Unfortunately, an animal now dies in a European laboratory every 3 seconds. 11.5 million animals are used in cosmetic, domestic and medical testing every year. Despite the fact that 9 out of 10 things items tested on animals go on to fail in human tests, and despite the fact that there are plenty of animal-less alternatives. The UK is one of the worst for using animals in Europe, using millions every year.
It is now illegal to sell animal-tested cosmetics and their ingredients in Europe, even if the testing was done outside Europe! Yesssssss.
In 2009, animal tests were banned in Europe, but products and ingredients could still be tested elsewhere before being imported.
Then, in 2013 the latest Iaw made it illegal to sell animal-tested cosmetics and ingredients in Europe, even if the testing was done outside Europe. This law finally highlighted the immoral nature of animal testing.
As a result, some other countries followed in our footsteps and investment in other testing methods grew. Some major companies have completely turned away from animals altogether, though there are many cheap and easy loopholes which the majority use.
Although it is illegal for companies to sell animal-tested cosmetics here, big global companies still test on animals elsewhere in the world, and then sell these products in other countries. So many brands are still profiting from cruelty to animals globally.
Also, large emerging markets such as China still legally demand that cosmetics be tested on animals.
Companies continue animal testing to collect legal data in case they are sued by injured consumers. They use their efforts with animals to attest that they are conscientious and trying to prevent problems. Even though they don't work, or reflect successful tests with humans.
An EU regulation called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals), the world’s largest chemical testing programme, states that if there's a possibility workers will be exposed to a chemical in factories, the companies have to provide information on the health effects and environmental hazards using animals.
Around 4 million tests have been conducted on animals since REACH came into policy 10 years ago - nearly 3 million of them without anaesthetic.
If companies don't already have this information, they have to conduct safety tests for that chemical on animals. 2,500 animals may be used in a single reproductive toxicity test for just one chemical.
The REACH legislation has subjected millions of animals to painful skin and eye examinations, toxicity tests, reproductive tests and death in the last decade. In 2017, 450 experiments on household product ingredients were conducted. These tests can last anywhere from months, to the entire life span of animals.
Thanks to campaigning organisations, duplicate tests on chemicals that have already been tested by other companies are more rare, which has saved millions of lives. Also, some of the worst tests for animal wellbeing require an evaluation by authorities first.
Around 4 million animals tests for medical purposes are conducted each year. Mice and fish are the most commonly used animals, but others include hamsters, rabbits, cats, dogs, monkeys, chickens and horses.
The third largest research organisation in the world, and the largest in Europe is in Cambridge. Huntingdon Life Sciences lab is responsible for 75,000 animal deaths per year, or 500 a day.
They test pesticides, fertilisers, foods, flavourings, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and veterinary products. The company has over 1,000 employees and makes around £75 million dollars a year.
Learning about the breadth of tests done there is surprising. Undercover animals rights activists have revealed that they conduct food colouring tests to make salmon more pink, and refer to blood as 'red staining'.
Nearly 4 million experiments were completed in Great Britain during 2017.
60 per cent were in the area of basic research – much of it driven by the curiosity of university researchers.
50 per cent of experiments were conducted in universities, often using taxpayers’ money.
Only 13 per cent of experiments were ones that were actually required by regulators.
Tests in numbers:
mice 1.10 million • rats 233,676
• hamsters 1,126 • birds 130,469 • rabbits 10,362
• guinea-pigs 22,560 • monkeys 2,960
• dogs 3,847 • cats 198 • horses 10,600
• sheep 47,482 • pigs 4,361 • goats 256
• cows 2,844 • reptiles 92 • amphibians 9,341
• fish 308,340
What do we do?
Support PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), who lobby and campaign for animals rights. Keep an eye on their Action page for current information.
Buy cruelty free products. Check brands using Leaping Bunny or Soil Association products.
Avoid brands that test on animals abroad, and do not supporting this inhumane practice. Check bad brands with Cruelty Free Kitten.
Choose favourite brands and buy only their ethical, organic products .
Email brands if you feel to, use this template urge them to change their ways.