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Pigs blown up, guinea pigs poisoned and marmosets given anthrax: Campaigners expose 'cruel' secret military experiments at Porton Down
Campaign group uncovered details of the 'cruel and grotesque' research projects at
the Porton Down labs in WiltshireExperiments involved substantial suffering and led to the death of the animalsPigs were anesthetised, blown up by bombs, then drained of a third of their blood before being resuscitatedMarmosets infected with highly dangerous chemicals
07:39 GMT, 27 November 2012
Pigs have been blown up, guinea pigs poisoned and marmosets given anthrax in germ and chemical warfare experiments at the top secret British military research base, it has emerged.
The campaign group that uncovered the details of the 'cruel and grotesque' research projects by scientists at the Porton Down labs in Wiltshire said that in some cases it appeared the animals had been given nothing to ease their pain.
Many of the experiments involved substantial suffering and led to the death of the animals, the British Union for Abolition of Vivisection's investigation found.
Porton Down researchers claim they are proud of the work they do for country's safety
The charity's chief executive Michelle Thew said: 'Although supporting the need to ensure the safety of soldiers and civilians in an increasingly 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.'
The Ministry of Defence, which last week was forced to explain experiments in which pigs are shot for military surgeons to operate on, said animal research is vital if it is to protect Britain and members of the Armed Forces safe.
The BUAV highlighted six pieces of studies published in medical and scientific journals since 2010. Some were funded by, or carried out in collaboration with, US defence agencies.
In one of the most graphic experiments, pigs were blown up by bombs before being resuscitated. The researchers wanted to find out the best way to treat soldiers when there is a delay in evacuating them from the battlefield.
Highly dangerous bacteria and biological weapons were tested on marmosets, like the one pictured above
Many pigs died in the process of testing explosives
The animals were anesthetised and placed on trolleys eight feet away from explosives that were then detonated remotely.
They were then drained of a third of their blood before being resuscitated.
Eleven of the 28 animals died, despite the researchers' efforts.
The researchers later wrote that the information they obtained will be of profound significance when treating wounded soldiers in the field.
Two other pig studies involved the animals being forced to inhale chemical warfare agents, including mustard gas.
In research into anthrax, marmosets were infected with the highly dangerous bacterium which can be used as a biological weapon.
Four died and those that were still alive at the end of the experiment were killed and dissected. The BUAV was unable to find any evidence that monkeys were given any sort of pain relief.
A fifth experiment involved testing a treatment for VX, a nerve agent and chemical weapon that causes fits, breathing difficulties, coma and eventually death.
The poison was applied to the animals' shaved backs before the treatment was injected into their muscles.
Eight died within the first two days and dissection revealed their guts had twisted.
Finally, scientists reaching a vaccine against bubonic plague injected mice with the bug behind the devastating disease.
Dr Katy Taylor, the BUAV's senior scientific advisor, said: 'In addition to the ethical objections of using animals in such severe experiments, it is questionable that this type of research actually saves lives. This is because it is difficult to extrapolate findings from other animals to humans.
'Also, some of these experiments were attempting to replicate some of what we already know from human and other animal studies, which challenges the conviction that the high level of suffering inflicted upon these animals is justified.'
An RSPCA spokesman said: 'Animals too often pay the price of man's inhumanity to man. The military should use and invest in alternative, non-animal training methods.'
The Ministry of Defence's Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) at Porton Down said: 'DSTL is proud of the research undertaken by its staff and believes that the remit to provide safe and effective protective measures for the UK and its Armed Forces could not, currently, be achieved without the use of animals.'
A spokesman added that international collaborations cut the need for the duplication of animal experiments and all work is approved by the Home Office, which also inspects the labs.
'All the research projects that involve animals are licensed by the Home Office.
As part of the licensing process, the researchers have to convince the Home Office that the work is required, that the results cannot be obtained without the use of animals and that every step has been taken to minimise pain and suffering to the animals involved.'