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PETA has caught the Navy conducting these types of experiments before. In 2010, the Navy yanked its funding for DCS/DCI experiments conducted at the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a direct result of a criminal investigation launched in response to a petition filed by PETA and Alliance for Animals. The special prosecutor, David A. Geier, appointed by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Amy Smith, who was overseeing this case, wrote the following at that time:
[T]he Petitioners’ actions have brought into question the necessity of the continuation of the decompression research. The Department of the Navy has pulled its grant and the research using the sheep has stopped. … There is no doubt that the animal suffers during the period from leaving the chamber until the ultimate injection to euthanize the animal.
However, it appears the Navy has recently resumed its crude testing program.
Foreign Navies Have Ended Decompression Tests on Animals
Continued animal experiments such as these make the Navy an outlier among the navies of our peer nations. France and the U.K. have already scrapped their respective naval DCS/DCI animal testing programs. In 2008, Derek Twigg—who at the time was the U.K. parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Ministry of Defence—wrote the following to Parliament:
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has today announced the end of its immediate requirement for testing on live goats as part of its hyperbaric research in support of the MoD’s submarine escape rescue and abandonment system.
Animal Testing Is Pointless
It’s obvious that sheep, mice and rats are not miniature humans. Major anatomical and physiological differences between species make any results obtained through these experiments useless to humans, and Navy brass has even admitted this. In 2010, Dr. Wayman W. Cheatham, director of the Navy Medical Research Center at the time, wrote this to PETA:
The impact of physiological differences between species with regard to disease processes … is well recognized throughout the medical research community.”
The Naval Medical Research Center itself has publicly acknowledged the inherent limitations of using animals to predict the effects of DCS/DCI in humans, stating that “animal DCS in many cases is more severe than that in humans and, therefore, appears ‘different’ from the average human case.” Other experts agree. “The problem with these animal experiments is that no animal model can replicate what happens in a human,” diving expert John Lippmann has said.
Animal-Free Research Methods Exist
In vitro studies and reanalysis of existing human-diver data have already yielded promising results that are directly applicable to humans in diving conditions. Machine-learning techniques may also aid in the prediction of symptoms such as seizures during hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and modeling can also improve the performance of dive computers to equip divers in avoiding DCS/DCI. Animals need not die to advance human health.
What You Can Do
Please urge the Navy and the U.S. Department of Defense to get in line with international standards and ban the use of all animals in these deadly and pointless DCS/DCI tests in favor of superior, human-relevant, non-animal research methods.