Military Ends Use of Monkeys for Nerve Agent Exercises
A long battle finally ended in October 2011, as the U.S. Army agreed to stop poisoning monkeys in chemical weapons training exercises.
For years, the Army has used live vervet monkeys at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland in exercises meant to teach trainees how to treat patients exposed to nerve agents. The monkeys were dosed with a concentrated chemical that simulated the effects of a nerve agent, while trainees observed them writhing and salivating. The same monkeys were used over and over.
PCRM filed legal complaints against this use of animals. Thousands of PCRM members contacted Army officials and urged them to act. And PCRM legislative experts worked with Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, an outspoken congressional opponent of primate experimentation, and other key members of Congress to spread the word about these exercises.
In a meeting with Rep. Bartlett in October, generals from Fort Detrick and Aberdeen Proving Ground confirmed that the Department of Defense will soon end this use of monkeys.
“It took far too long for the military to shift to nonanimal methods, but we are glad it finally did so,” says John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM’s director of academic affairs. “Military medical professionals should be fully prepared to cope with a chemical weapons attack, and the best training involves human-patient simulators and other high-tech methods.”
Researchers with the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps and Israel’s Carmel Medical Center have developed a nonanimal training curriculum for the medical management of patients exposed to nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.