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Animal Welfare Government called on to end inhumane chemical weapons tests on animals

CAMPAIGNERS called on the government today to end painful and inhumane chemical weapons tests on animals.

The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) has hit out at painful inhalation tests on animals in its Chemical Weapons Defence Centre at Porton Down.

NAVS is calling for the new, publicly funded facility to use advanced human-relevant methods instead as thousands of animals suffer each year during experiments by the Ministry of Defence.

Society president Jan Creamer said using animals in chemical weapons tests was "ethically and scientifically wrong."

She said: "Unlike advanced alternatives, the results simply cannot provide reliable predictions of how humans will react to harmful substances, hindering medical progress and costing animals’ lives.”

Monkeypox tests, a similar virus to smallpox, have been conducted on animals despite vaccinations for smallpox on humans already found to be “safe and well tolerated" in the majority of people.

Relatively uncommon diseases such as the Western equine encephalitis virus, which is contracted through mosquito bites or proximity to infected horses, are also tested.

All the animals who were exposed to the virus died, but in natural human exposure the mortality rate was only 3-4 per cent.

Once experiments are over and after suffering various symptoms, animals are killed and have their organs removed for further testing.

Campaigners have suggested using human-relevant experiments instead, such as the human lung-on-a-chip device.

This is made using lung and blood vessel cells that reproduce the “structural, functional and mechanical” properties of the human lung and has been used to model respiratory infections, including tuberculosis.

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