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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Experimental Animals

From USA Today:
Military researchers have dressed live pigs in body armor and strapped them into Humvee simulators that were then blown up with explosives to study the link between roadside bomb blasts and brain injury.

......
U.S. car companies used live animals, including pigs, for crash tests until the early 1990s. They stopped after protests from animal rights groups.
Pigs as crash test dummies? Okay, so a safety assurance team strapped a living pig, pressed the accelerator pedal and let the car dash into a wall? The anatomy of a pig is so different from that of a human being, I wonder how a crash test and the injuries sustained by a pig provided meaningful information as to the relevant safety adjustments to be made for humans. In the other case, the military must have it's reasons. But from a layman's point of view, an armored pig blown away by a bomb will be torn away differently from that of a human being. I'm not sure how one can conclude the effectiveness of the armor from inferences based on pigs' brains.

PS: I'm not against using live animals for such experiments. We've had lab rats, rabbits, cows and pigs getting injected with new formulas before they're tried on human beings. I believe they have contributed to a lot of life-saving drugs in use today. And for most of the world, 'humane treatment' of animals is mostly in regard to cats and dogs not cows or chickens which end up on a lunch menu. (Yes, there are organizations that fight for decent living conditions and 'humane' killing techniques of these animals before they're cooked, but I don't see it far away from being an experimental punch-bag).

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