Throughout December, follow our advent calendar and learn more about NAMs' history. What was before, what, who and how was the way towards alternatives to animal testing paved ? Let's discover it together, one box at a time!
This famous quote by Rabelais- from Pantagruel published in 1532- has been used and re-used to a point it could nearly lose meaning ; yet it is absolutely relevant to the way the actors of the development of NAMs want to do, share, and teach science. Any scientific achievement should and must be made, fostered, with a full conscience, meaning it has to fit to a frame of values, ethics, morality – so that it is not only progress that is pursued, but a global and harmonious evolution that benefits all and everything. As such, Rabelais sets with this idea the basis of bioethic, trying to reconcile scientific capability and their moral validity.
Rabelais was a French Renaissance writer, physician, Renaissance humanist, monk and Greek scholar.
The Canard Digérateur, or Digesting Duck, was an automaton in the form of a duck, created by Jacques de Vaucanson and unveiled on 30 May 1738 in France. The mechanical duck appeared to have the ability to eat kernels of grain, and to metabolize and defecate them. While the duck did not actually have the ability to do this—the food was collected in one inner container, and the pre-stored feces were “produced” from a second, so that no actual digestion took place—Vaucanson hoped that a truly digesting automaton could one day be designed.
This experiment can be seen as a starting point for robotic and artificial life testing.
In An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation philosopher Jeremy Bentham argued for better treatment of animals on the basis of their ability to feel pleasure and pain, famously writing, “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?”
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) was founded in 1824. The first of its kind, it is the oldest and largest animal welfare organisation in the world and is one of the largest charities in the UK.
In 1822, two years before it was founded, ‘Martin’s Act’ was passed. It was the very first animal welfare law and it forbade ‘the cruel and improper treatment of cattle’.
Thirteen years on, in 1835, and ‘Pease’s Act’ consolidated this law. The prohibition of cruelty was extended to dogs and other domestic animals, bear-baiting and cock-fighting was forbidden, and it insisted on better standards for slaughter houses.
This initiative was soon followed by France where The Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) was founded in 1845.