It has been revealed, through a United Kingdom parliamentary question, how military medics are being sent to Denmark to take part in exercises involving pigs being given “bullet and blast wounds.”
The animals are then practiced upon by medics and killed at the end of the experiments.
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).
Animal Aid, the UK campaign group, is saddened that despite 22 NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) countries not using animals in military medical training, the UK is clearly one of six NATO countries who still do.
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 … 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 So many other NATO countries have moved away from this outdated and chilling use of animals, so the UK clearly can, and should, do the same.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,’ 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, as are 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.” 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.”
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 civilized society and the policy makers within it.
Featured image: pigs like these are being unnecessarily harmed and killed for UK military medic training. Image credit K-State Research and Extension, CC BY-SA 2.0.