BUAV calls for an end to the use of animals in disturbing UK military experiments
The BUAV has called for an end to the cruel use of animals in warfare experiments following revelations of the severe suffering inflicted on animals at the top secret Porton Down military laboratory in Wiltshire.
Disturbing evidence of animals poisoned, blasted, forced to inhale toxic chemicals and infected with deadly disease has been released by the BUAV. Thousands of animals are used each year in Porton Down, including pigs, monkeys, guinea pigs and mice. Many of these experiments involved substantial suffering and resulted in the death of the animals. In some tests, there were no reports of treatment or pain relief given.
Some of the animal research conducted at Porton Down was funded by or carried out in collaboration with the US defence agencies.
In addition to the ethical objections of using animals in such grotesque and cruel experiments, the BUAV also points out the inadequacies of using nonhuman animals in an effort to understand human beings.
The BUAV has also raised concerns that an Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, which was set up to provide independent scientific advice on the care and welfare of animals used in military research at Porton Down was dissolved in 2010.
Some of the experiments conducted at Porton Down and published in journals in the last two years include:
Pigs were exposed to lethal chemical warfare agents that induced severe lung damage. Phosgene is a poisonous gas and sulphur mustard is a skin blistering agent. When inhaled both agents lead to a slow and painful death by suffocation. The sulphur mustard experiment was funded by the US Department of Defense). In both experiments, pigs were anaesthetised before being forced to breathe in the deadly chemicals. At the end of the study or when the lung damage was so severe that the animals were close to death, they were killed and dissected.
Pigs were blown up with bombs to induce severe blast injuries. The animals were anaesthetised, wrapped in blankets and placed on trolleys 2.5 meters away from explosives that were then detonated remotely. Immediately after the blast, 30% of their total blood content was pumped out through an artery in their legs. The researchers then tried to resuscitate the pigs. However, 11 pigs (out of 28) died despite the resuscitation. All of the animals were killed and dissected at the end of the experiment.
Marmosets were infected with anthrax, caused by a lethal and highly infectious bacterium, which can be used as a biological weapon. The animals were anaesthetised and restrained inside tubes in which they were forced to inhale the deadly bacteria for 10 minutes. They were then given an antibiotic for up to 10 days. Four animals died from serious infection and those who were still alive at the end of the experiment were killed and dissected. There were no reports that pain relief or other supportive measures were provided and the marmosets must have suffered immensely before experiencing a painful death. This study was funded by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the US.
Guinea pigs were poisoned with an extremely toxic nerve agent, which can be used as a chemical weapon and causes severe systemic damage leading to seizures, breathing difficulties, coma and eventually death. Some animals were treated when they started to show signs of poisoning, but the rest were left untreated. All those who were untreated, died within the first 24-48 hours after exposure. On dissection, it was found that the nerve agent had caused their guts to twist, a very painful condition. Some of the remaining treated animals died over the next seven days, the rest were killed. On dissection, it was found that most (even those who survived) showed signs of internal damage to the lungs such as bleeding, swelling and excess fluid build-up.
Mice were injected with Yersinia pestis, the bacterial agent that causes bubonic plague. In the experiment carried out in collaboration with the University of Maryland, USA and funded by a US National Institutes of Health grant, mice were injected with various concentrations of a vaccine. Forty-nine days later the mice were injected with the bacteria and observed for 14 days. Some of them died from the painful disease.
BUAV’s Chief Executive, Michelle Thew states: “Although supporting the need to ensure the safety of soldiers and civilians in an ever increasing dangerous world, the BUAV is opposed to deliberately causing suffering and death to animals in such disturbing and cruel experiments. We believe it is totally unacceptable to treat animals in this way."