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9 Apr, 2009 12:36

Pentagon accused of pig victimization

Pentagon accused of pig victimization

Animal rights activists take issue with the Pentagon’s alleged mistreatment of swine after revelations that military researchers have been blowing up pigs to check the efficacy of body armour worn by American soldiers.

Under the research guided by the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), live pigs have been dressed in body armor and strapped inside Humvees before these vehicles were blown up.

The project aims to establish whether wearing body armour might increase the risk of damage to the brain as the pressure of blasts is diverted from the torso to the head. It doesn’t.

DARPA says thanks to the pigs, they learned a lot of valuable information.

"If the use of animal subjects in testing results in our ability to save lives or prevent injury to our troops, we're confident this is the right thing to do," Jan Walker, a spokeswoman for DARPA, told the Independent newspaper.

Meanwhile, animal defenders demand DARPA stop using pigs and other animals, and like other military labs, use high-tech crash-test dummies or other substitutes.

"Is this the best they can do after several years of losing soldiers to roadside bombs?" wonders Martin Stephens, vice-president for animal research at the Humane Society of the United States.

"People are not pigs," pointedly notes Stephens. "I think the relevance of this (research) is highly questionable."

Despite the Pentagon's resistance, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organization has come up with horrible figures – at least 320,000 animals have been hurt or killed during the Department of Defence experiments.