PETA demands end to ‘Havana syndrome’ animal testing
Animal advocacy group PETA has urged Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to close the Pentagon's animal experimentation program that uses radio frequencies to attempt to determine the cause of the mysterious “Havana Syndrome” cropping up among US diplomats.
In a letter on Monday the activists cited a recent US Office of National Intelligence report and pointed out that the experiments are not only “cruel and wasteful but also, frankly, futile.”
PETA argued that the Havana Syndrome experiments – involving bombarding ferrets with a radio-frequency directed energy and exposing monkeys to pulsed microwave radiation – serve no medical purpose. They pointed to multiple scientific papers acknowledging the difficulty of translating experimental results from animal models into humans, particularly where the brain is concerned,
The group claims more than 2,000 so-called weapon-wounding tests are conducted under the authority of the US Army Medical Research and Development Command – tests which were reportedly banned before 2020. After tipping off PETA to the existence of these experiments, the military allegedly declared them classified.
However such tests would be useless in determining the cause of Havana Syndrome, PETA added, pointing to a ODNI report published last week that declared it “very unlikely” that either a directed energy weapon or incidental exposure to radio waves had produced the illness.
Hundreds of US government personnel have claimed to be afflicted by the illness of unknown origin whose symptoms include dizziness, ringing ears, memory loss, headaches, and nausea. It first manifested in 2016 at the US’ newly-opened diplomatic facility in Cuba but has since been reported by American officials all over the world.
While the seven intelligence agencies that contributed to the ODNI report doubt any foreign adversary could have access to a weapon capable of causing the constellation of symptoms seen in Havana syndrome patients, some agencies still think radio frequencies could be the cause.
The Pentagon has thus far refused to abandon its animal research. The Defense Department’s “foremost concern remains providing care to affected individuals – since the health and well-being of our personnel are our top priority,” the agency told the Hill when asked about PETA’s request.