Military Ending Use of Live Monkeys for Nerve Agent Exercises

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE October 14, 2011
Military Ending Use of Live Monkeys for Nerve Agent Exercises
John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Congressman Confirms Army Will Stop Poisoning Monkeys in Chemical Weapons Training

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Army will soon stop poisoning live vervet monkeys in chemical weapons training exercises, the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has learned from the office of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, an outspoken Congressional opponent of the practice.

At Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, the Army currently uses live vervet monkeys in exercises meant to teach trainees how to treat patients exposed to nerve agents. In August PCRM filed a legal complaint against this use of animals, urging the Department of Defense to halt the shipment of additional monkeys for use in these demonstrations. Despite the complaint, 20 more monkeys were recently shipped to Aberdeen.

But in a recent meeting with Rep. Bartlett, generals from Ft. Detrick and Aberdeen Proving Ground confirmed that the Department of Defense will soon end the use of monkeys in these exercises.

“I congratulate the military on moving away from the cruel, ineffective method of poisoning monkeys to try to teach medical personnel about nerve agent exposure,“ says John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., director of academic affairs for PCRM. “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.”

A military chemical casualty training video obtained by PCRM through the Freedom of Information Act shows a vervet monkey spasming violently after being given a toxic dose of physostigmine, a drug that can cause seizures, difficulty breathing, and sometimes death.

Nonanimal methods are more effective. Researchers with the Israel Defense Forces Medical Corps and Israel’s Carmel Medical Center, for example, have developed a nonanimal training curriculum for the medical management of patients exposed to nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

For an interview with a medical expert or a copy of the legal complaint, contact Jeanne McVey at 202-527-7316 or

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Media Contact:
Jeanne Stuart McVey
202-527-7316 office
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