The animals are then practised upon by medics and killed at the end of the experiments.(1)
Animal Aid, the national campaign group, is saddened that, despite 22 NATO countries not using animals in ‘military medical training’, the UK is clearly one of six NATO countries who still do.(2)
Alternatives to the use of live animals, such as simulators, are available. A group of Canadian doctors compared one simulator, called TraumaMan, with the pig ‘model’. They concluded ‘As a result of our study, we have switched our surgical skills model in the ATLS course to TraumaMan because we could not justify identifying animals as the only suitable source for providing the necessary training.’
Jessamy Korotoga, Animal Aid’s Campaign Manager stated:
‘It is shocking that the UK is involved in such a macabre and archaic use of animals. So many other NATO countries have moved away from this outdated and chilling use of animals, so the UK clearly can, and should, do the same. The German Armed Forces are quoted as saying that their “soldiers learn with really good models and the doctors don’t need animal experiments”, (2) which shows how progressive some countries can be.’
Animal Aid is calling for a ban on the use of animals in all warfare experiments.
Whilst the pigs used in these exercises are anaesthetised, they are still being treated in a grotesque way, in common with all animals used in warfare experiments. Animal Aid has also raised awareness of how guinea pigs were exposed to the nerve agent VX and observed for symptoms such as ‘gasping’ and ‘writhing’ (4). In addition, we revealed how marmoset monkeys were exposed to Ebola – leading to some of the animals suffering bleeding genitals. The justification given was that Ebola viruses are ‘considered possible biowarfare / bioterrorist agents’. (5)
Animal experiments do not reliably predict what will happen in humans, making them all of great concern, but there is something especially reprehensible about deliberately harming animals in the course of warfare experiments. A move away from the use of animals in warfare experiments and towards human-relevant research methods should be the target for a civilised society and the policy makers within it.
The medics are from the Defence Medical Services which is made up of the Navy Medical Service, Army Medical Service, the Royal Air Force Medical Service and the Joint Medical Group (JMG).
Find out more about warfare experiments