Citizen Lobbyists Urge Congress to End Military's Use of Animals
Many of you joined PCRM’s Citizen Lobbyist Week in January. You met with U.S. representatives and asked them to support the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training Practices Act. Now it has 25 congressional co-sponsors. This bill would help the U.S. military modernize its medical training methods by phasing in human-based methods in place of live animals. But your continued grassroots activism is needed to enlist more co-sponsors.
Today, Rep. Bob Filner, D-Calif., who introduced the Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act, H.R. 4269, and military doctors and medical simulation experts are joining PCRM in urging other members of the House of Representatives to end the Department of Defense’s outdated use of animals in combat trauma and chemical casualty care training courses. In the Capitol Hill briefing, they are addressing why the military should begin using educationally superior human-based training methods.
Rep. Filner, chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, will discuss his efforts to modernize military training with the BEST Practices Act. He will be joined by Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H., PCRM’s director of research policy, who will present an overview of the military’s reliance on live animals, including monkeys, pigs, and goats, to train medics, corpsmen, and other service members. Lt. Col. William Morris, M.D. (ret.), chief of neurosurgery at MultiCare Health, will discuss his personal experiences with animal use in combat trauma training. Adam Levine, M.D., director of human simulation and director of residency training at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, will present a hands-on medical simulation demonstration.
“Caring for wounded troops under fire requires quick thinking, and there is no time to translate from animal-based training to lifesaving care for your human patient,” says Dr. Ferdowsian. “The BEST Practices Act ensures that the military’s medical training meets 21st-century standards.”
The military's trauma training courses subject more than 8,500 goats and pigs a year to severe injuries, including stab wounds, gunshot wounds, burns, and amputations. In chemical casualty care courses, live vervet monkeys are given a toxic dose of the drug physostigmine, which can induce seizures, breathing difficulty, and death.
The BEST Practices Act would improve the way personnel are trained to manage severe battlefield injuries by phasing in methods that simulate human anatomy and injuries and phasing out the use of live animals. The medical community has increasingly moved away from animal-based training and come to rely on modern technologies.
To ask your U.S. representative to co-sponsor H.R. 4269, visit BetterMilitaryMedicine.org.
Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H
PCRM Online, February 2010