Pentagon Experiments Under Investigation
BY STEVEN RAGLAND
The $435 hammers and $640 toilet seats bought by the
U.S. military in the 1980s
were nothing. The Department of Defense now spends $200 million a year
experiments using hundreds of thousands of animals, often with no more
vaguest scientific rationale. By all appearances, some Department of
programs have become little more than checking accounts for ivory tower
In 1992 and again in 1994, PCRM doctors testified before
congress on military
animal use and worked with the General Accounting Office (GAO) in its
investigation of Michael Carey's experiments at Louisiana State
had shot 700 restrained cats in the head to "model" human injuries. As a
the investigation, Carey's cat-shooting experiments were halted. Other
which animals were shot for training purposes discontinued these
laboratories were forced to improve their animal care standards, and a
tracking system was set up to monitor animal use.
The military's new tracking system now lists 725
military experiments using
animals, exposed to light for the first time. Some are patently
military experimenters use pigs to experiment with laser tattoo removal
rats, pigeons, and squirrel monkeys to study drug abuse. Other
particularly biological and chemical weapons tests, are among the most
experiments imaginable. The GAO is again investigating military animal
PCRM has prepared a series of reports on the experiments and rallied
critique them. We have found scores of military tests that kill animals
no realistic military purpose.
Biological and Chemical Weapons
The U.S. is a signatory to the international Biological
Weapons Convention, which
prohibits the use of any biological agent and requires that all
destroyed or diverted to peaceful purposes. But biological weapons tests
animals continue. Military experimenters are infecting monkeys with the
virus in order to work toward "a safer, more immunogenic cell
vaccine" despite the fact that such vaccines can be developed and tested
animals. Brucellosis, anthrax, dengue fever, Venezuelan equine
equine infectious anemia, and the filoviruses ebola and marburg are
in other military experiments.
These experiments are not only controversial because of
the animal abuse
involved. While they may appear to serve a defensive purpose, vaccine
may be intended to find ways to allow the use of chemical agents in
combat or to
circumvent defenses, according to some critics.
Such tests are as misleading as they are cruel. Animals
often respond to
chemical agents and antidotes differently than humans. A rat's
differs greatly from that of a human, and rats are more susceptible to
because they are unable to vomit. Mice have a genetic tendency to
tumors, rendering much of the research on physiological effects of
invalid. Regarding skin tests, a U.S. Department of Health and Human
report said, "Since laboratory animals have fur and do not have sweat
most of their body, they do not provide optimal models for dermal
Mustard gas, first used in World War I, continues to be
a favorite agent for
Department of Defense animal experimenters. Yet good treatments are
available and are easy to use. Military personnel receive a "Mark I Kit"
self-injectable antidotes to the gas: atropine, which counteracts the
pralidoxime chloride, which binds the nerve agent so it can be cleared
body. Preventative drugs, such as benactyzine, oximes, aprophen, and
physostigmine, are also commonly used. Little about these treatments has
changed in the last 35 years, yet military experimenters continue to
hundreds of thousands of dollars for animal tests with the agent.
Marjorie Cramer, M.D., a plastic surgeon and Fellow of
College of Surgeons, says, "The use of pigs to study tattoo removal in
humans makes very little sense. Given that tattoo removal is a cosmetic
problem that is already being studied widely in humans, it is difficult
justify this research in animals."
Training Programs Need Reform
Medical training is one of the largest areas of animal
use in the military. Animals
are used for practicing basic trauma skills and surgery, and even in
school physiology and pharmacology demonstrations.
Replacing these labs is not difficult. For every animal
use in training, an alternative
is readily available that is both cheaper and more effective.
mannequins and simulators, computer software, interactive videodiscs,
cadavers are used throughout civilian training programs and offer
For example, to teach infant incubation -- inserting a
tube down the throat with the
aid of a metal stylus -- one military lab uses ferrets, another uses
cats, and yet
another uses sheep, none of whom is, in fact, a close model for humans.
incubation training, instructors have used primates, ferrets, and pigs.
trauma care procedure is performed daily in emergency rooms. It is
simulator mannequins and cadavers. Animals are not typically used in
incubation training, yet military programs continue to use animals
anatomical differences. Mannequins are anatomically exact, inexpensive,
be used again and again to maintain skills over weeks and months.
The Uniformed Services University of the Health
Sciences, the military medical
school in Bethesda, Maryland, is the only U.S. medical school that still
students to participate in live animal laboratories, despite complaints
House Armed Services Committee and the American Medical Student
PCRM is providing research, reports, and expert opinions
to the General
Accounting Office, and is pushing for alternatives as aggressively as
Here is how you can help.
Mail this letter to your congressional representative.
As a resident of your district, I'm asking you to push
for an end to the use of
animals in all military experiments and training. The Department of
spends nearly $200,000,000 a year on animal experiments even though
and preferred training methods are already in place in medical schools
advanced trauma centers and far superior non-animal research methods are
available. The military's history of fiscal irresponsibility speaks for
itself, but the
use of animals in experiments must be stopped now.
Name (please print)
Address, City, State, ZIP
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