Brooks AFB use of animals
in experimentation has long been a cause for concern due to the types of
experiments performed within the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) as well
as the extremely long term nature of the projects involved. Recently
obtained documents have allowed for an up-to-date evaluation of the
projects at this highly publicized facility.
For the 2004 reporting
year experiments at Brooks AFB utilized 2091 animals including dogs,
rabbits, primates (rhesus monkeys and other species), pigs, rats, mice,
frogs, and snakes. 907 (43.4%) of these animals were used in painful
experiments without benefit of anesthesia. This may be the highest
level of experiments with unrelieved pain of any laboratory in the
United States. Fifteen of the animals experiencing unrelieved pain were
dogs, five were primates, 685 were mice, and 202 were rats.
The type of
experimentation conducted at Brooks AFB clearly reveals the reason for
the highly invasive nature of these protocols. Information obtained
from the DOD database (http://www.dtic.mil/biosys/org/brd/index.htm)
discusses the use of primates in projects involving laser injuries,
microwaves and radiation. Pigs are used in munitions research and wound
research. Rabbits and guinea pigs are used in radiation research.
Rabbits are also used in microwave experiments. When the nature of this
research is examined it is not surprising that the laboratory at Brooks
is among the nationís worst labs for performing painful experiments. In
fact, a skeptical mind would wonder if the laboratory is actually
under-reporting the number of animals used in painful experiments.
The DOD Biomedical
Research Database reveals that the AFRL receives $5,359,870 per year in
funding for 34 separate projects, averaging approximately $158,000 per
project. These research projects do not appear to be unique in nature.
The pubmed website, which is used to search medical journal articles,
shows that many of the projects at the Air Force Research Laboratory are
potentially duplicative. This website lists citations for 1717 research
projects involving radiation in macaque monkeys. This same website
lists 3546 publications that examine wound protocols with pigs. While
Brooks is among the only labs currently studying laser eye injuries in
macaque monkeys, other labs studied this area dating back to the 1970ís
Priebe LA, Cain CP, Welch AJ.
Temperature rise required for production of minimal lesions in the
Macaca mulatta retina. Am J Ophthalmol. 1975 Mar;79(3):405-13.
Powell JO, Tso MO, Wallow IH, Frisch GD.
Recovery of the retina from argon laser radiation: clinical and light
microscopic evaluation. Ann Ophthalmol. 1974 Oct;6(10):1003-6, 1009-12.
Pomerantzeff O, Kaneko H, Donovan RH,
Schepens CL, McMeel JW. Effect of the ocular media on the
main wavelengths of argon laser emission.
Invest Ophthalmol. 1976 Jan;15(1):70-7.
Similarly, microwaves have been studied at other
military labs and in other research facilities 2. It appears
that the researchers at Brooks AFB may largely be in the business of
producing protocols in areas that are already being investigated
thoroughly by other researchers.
Documents obtained from the Air Force
and Government databases illustrate that the protocols at Brooks AFB
appear to be very long lived. Protocols which are similar, if not
identical, to currently active protocols date back into the late 1990ís
and beyond. We must begin to wonder how many more decades these
experiments will be allowed to continue. How many more animal lives
will be swallowed up by experiments that have already spanned decades
and wasted millions of tax dollars?
Nelson DA, Walters TJ, Ryan KL, Emerton
KB, Hurt WD, Ziriax JM, Johnson LR, Mason PA. Inter-species
extrapolation of skin heating resulting from millimeter wave
irradiation: modeling and experimental results.
Health Phys. 2003 May;84(5):608-15
Foster KR, D'Andrea JA, Chalfin S,
Hatcher DJ. Thermal modeling of millimeter wave damage to
the primate cornea at 35 GHz and 94 GHz.
Health Phys. 2003 Jun;84(6):764-9
Jauchen, JR, Frei MR, Chang KS, Berger, RE Microwave-Inducedc Lethal
Heat Stress: Efects of Phentolamine, Prazosin and Metoprolol
Meth Find Exp Clin Pharmacol 1995, 17(4): 241 Ė 248.
The experiments performed on animals at
the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Brooks Air Force Base are
among the most invasive projects involving animals anywhere in the US.
The projects involve weapons research, radiation research, and laser
injury research. The highly invasive nature of these experiments have
put the AFRL at the top of the list (using currently available
information) for the percentage of animals used in painful experiments
without benefit of anesthesia in the US. 43% of the animals used in
experiments at AFRL experience unrelieved pain, including dogs,
primates, rats and mice.
The nature of the experiments at AFRL,
the lack of independent supervision and oversight in all DOD labs, and
past issues regarding animal care at this facility, have raised major
concerns about the care of animals at AFRL, as well as the scientific
validity of experiments and the potential duplication involved in these
projects. Therefore, SAEN will launch investigation of experiments at
AFRL. Our goal will be to obtain research protocols and animal health
care records to allow us to perform an independent evaluation of the
overall program at AFRL.
This is an especially important time to
perform this evaluation since the potential exists that these
experiments may be transferred to Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. It may
be possible to seek the termination of unnecessary projects before they
are moved to a different facility.