One of the purposes for which animals are used as mere tools is military research. The extent to which military research is done on nonhuman animals is not known since it is very difficult to obtain information on this topic. The United States Department of Agriculture, which is in charge of enforcing the Animal Welfare Act, does not have the authority to inspect labs that belong to the federal government. In the UK, experiments carried out in the military laboratories of Porton Down also remained secret for years. However, it is known that a wide range of weapons are tested on animals. These include AK-47 rifles, biological and chemical agents, and even nuclear blasts.1 Between 1997 and 2007 the number of animals used in weapons research in Britain rose from 4,500 to over 18,000. In 2005 in Porton Down 21,118 animal-based testing procedures took place, nearly twice as many as in 1997.2
Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Turkey do not use animals in military medical training exercises, citing various reasons including availability of simulation technology. The Military Police of Lithuania uses dogs, although they are not used in military or medical training exercises.
Canada, Denmark, Norway, Poland, the Unites States, and the United Kingdom (which sends medical personnel to participate in Denmark’s animal laboratories) use animals in military medical training exercises, primarily pigs and goats, for training in the surgical management of trauma including difficult airways, penetrating injuries, gunshot wounds, and amputation hemorrhaging. United States also uses rabbits for chest tube insertion and eye surgery practice and rats for microsurgery exercises, as well as ferrets for intubation training.3 Canada also uses pigs in live agent chemical casualty management exercises.4
These experiments have been criticized for being too costly since most of the effects have been studied already, or, in some cases, the results are not relevant to humans. However, if we reject speciesism, we should reject experiments that would never be considered acceptable if they were carried out on humans. Following are a few examples of experiments that would never be done on humans but that are done on animals.
These experiments are among the more common ones for which animals are used. To see how new weapons can harm human victims, they are tested first on animals. Here are just a few examples:
In other cases it’s not particular weapons that are tested, but rather the resistance towards certain kinds of physical damage.
Rats in other tests were bled for over 15 minutes and then resuscitated. They then either died or were killed within a day.11 Monkeys have also been the target of considerable physical testing as in the following examples:
Some other animals have endured similar testing with chemicals:
In another type of experiment, animals are hurt in various ways to see how much they can resist certain kinds of extreme situations:
In other cases, animals are harmed to train doctors how to heal humans. Following are some examples:
Barnard, N. D. (1986) Animals in military wound research and training, Washington, D. C.: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
Block, E.; Lottenberg, L.; Flint, L.; Jakobsen, J. & Liebnitzky, D. (2002) “Use of a human patient simulator for the advanced trauma life support course”, The American Surgeon, 68, pp. 648-651.
Brook, I.; Elliott, T. B.; Ledney, G. D.; Shoemaker, M. O., & Knudson, G. B. (2004) “Management of postirradiation infection: Lessons learned from animal models”, Military Medicine, 169, pp. 194-197.
Bruner, R. H. (1984) Pathologic findings in laboratory animals exposed to hydrocarbon fuels of military interest (No. AD-A-166343/4/XAB; NMRI-84-76), Bethesda: Naval Medical Research Inst.
Dacre, J. C., & Goldman, M. (1996) “Toxicology and pharmacology of the chemical warfare agent sulfur mustard”, Pharmacological Reviews, 48, pp. 289-326.
Mayorga, M. A. (1994) “Overview of nitrogen dioxide effects on the lung with emphasis on military relevance”, Toxicology, 89, pp. 175-192.
Pandya, A. & Ali, A. (2009) “The role of TraumaMan in the advanced trauma life support course”, Canadian Journal of Surgery, 52, suppl., pp. S3-S19.
Phillips, Y. Y. & Richmond, D. R. (1991) “Primary blast injury and basic research: a brief history”, in Bellamy R. (ed.) Conventional warfare: Ballistic, blast, and burn injuries, Washington, D. C.: Department of the Army, pp. 221-240.
Ritter, E. M. & Bowyer, M. W. (2005) “Simulation for trauma and combat casualty care”, Minimally Invasive Therapy & Allied Technologies, 14, pp. 224-234.
2 House of Commons of the United Kingdom (2010) “Written answers to questions, 24 Mar. 2010: Column 295W”, Publications and records, UK Parliament, 24 Mar 10 [accessed on 23 October 2011].
3 Knudsen, P. J. & Darre, E. M. (1996) “Training in wound ballistics: Operation exercise at the Defence Medical Training Centre”, Journal of Trauma, 40, suppl. 3, pp. S6-S9. Chivers, C. J. (2006) “Tending a fallen Marine, with skill, prayer and fury”, New York Times, Nov. 2 [accessed on 14 April 2013]. Butler, F. K.; Holcomb, J. B.; Giebner, S. D.; McSwain, N. E. & Bagian, J. (2007) “Tactical combat casualty care 2007: Evolving concepts and battleﬁeld experience”, Military Medicine, 172, suppl. 11, pp. 1-19. Gaarder, C.; Naess, P. A.; Buanes, T. & Pillgram-Larsen, J. (2005) “Advanced surgical trauma care training with a live porcine model”, Injury, 36, pp. 718-724. Gala, S. G.; Goodman, J. R.; Murphy, M. P. & Balsam, M. J. (2012) “Use of animals by NATO countries in military medical training exercises: An international survey”, Military Medicine, 177, pp. 907-910.
5 Rawstorne, M. (2010) “Is it really right to blow up pigs even if it saves our soldiers’ lives?”, Daily Mail, 28 May [accessed on 11 December 2012].
6 Brown, R. F. R.; Jugg, B. J. A.; Harban, F. M. J.; Ashley, Z.; Kenward, C. E.; Platt, J.; Hill, A.; Rice P. & Watkins, P. E. (2002) “Pathophysiological responses following phosgene exposure in the anaesthetized pig”, Journal of Applied Toxicology, 22, pp. 263-269.
8 Brook, T. V. (2011) “Brain study, animal rights collide: Red flags raised by use of pigs in military blast tests”, USA Today, 28 March [accessed on 11 December 2012].
9 Rawstorne, M. (2010) “Is it really right to blow up pigs even if it saves our soldiers’ lives?”, op. cit.
10 Dai, T.; Kharkwal, G. B.; Tanaka, M.; Huang, Y. Y.; Arce, V. J. B. de & Hamblin, M. R. (2011) “Animal models of external traumatic wound infections”, Virulence, 2, pp. 296-315.
11 Handrigan, M. (2004) “Choice of fluid influences outcome in prolonged hypotensive resuscitation after hemorrhage in awake rats”, Shock, 23, pp. 337-343.
12 Singer, P. (2009 ) Animal liberation, reissue ed., New York: Harper Perennial Modern Classics, ch. 2.
13 Helden, H. P. van; Wiel, H. J. van der; Lange, J. de; Busker, R. W.; Melchers, B. P. & Wolthuis, O. L. (1992) “Therapeutic efficacy of HI-6 in soman-poisoned marmoset monkeys”, Toxicology and applied pharmacology, 115, pp. 50-56. Raveh, L.; Grauer, E.; Grunwald, J.; Cohen, E. & Ashani, Y. (1997) “The stoichiometry of protection against soman and VX toxicity in monkeys pretreated with human butyrylcholinesterase”, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 145, pp. 43-53.
14 Chang, F. C. T.; Foster, R. E.; Beers, E. T.; Rickett, D. L. & Filbert, M. G. (1990) “Neurophysiological concomitants of soman-induced respiratory depression in awake, behaving guinea pigs”, Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 102, pp. 233-250.
15 Romano, J. A., Jr.; Lukey, B. J. & Salem, H. (eds.) (2007) Chemical warfare agents: Chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology, and therapeutics, London: CRC Press.
17 Christenson, S. (2008) “Goats die so GIs have a chance at living”, San Antonio Express-News, 3 Aug.
18 Some organizations have questioned whether these tests can provide reliable results.