PCRM Weighs In on Cruel Mink Study
PCRM was contacted by Colorado citizens concerned that U.S. Army toxicity studies involving mink were both cruel and useless. The study was conducted to re-evaluate water standards for a chemical known as DIMP, a by-product in the production of the nerve gas Sarin, which has leaked into ground water near the Rocky Mountain Arsenal and the city of Denver.
In the experiment, DIMP was added to minks’ food for two successive generations, causing many to become too sick to eat or drink. Instead of humanely euthanizing the animals who appeared to be dying from the exposure, researchers performed various medical treatments including injections of fluids, vitamins, and antibiotics, artificially prolonging the animals’ suffering. State health officials and the Colorado Office of the Attorney General were also concerned that the treatments compromised the results of the study and thus should not be used as a basis to relax the existing water standard for DIMP.
Animal and citizens groups in Colorado refused to accept claims by the Army that these treatments were given for “humane” reasons. PCRM’s senior toxicologist, Chad Sandusky, Ph.D., worked with local citizens groups to let the Water Quality Control Commission know that the experiment was seriously flawed and caused needless and extended animal suffering. A more humane approach would have been to assume the chemical toxic and to control it as such, without any further animal tests.
A two-day hearing was held in December on the study and the Army’s request to raise the water standard for DIMP by 50 times. After hearing testimony from all sides, the Commission denied the request in a 4 to 3 vote and left the allowable level unchanged.