Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Wednesday, 10 February 2010

MoD defends use of pigs in explosive tests in Wiltshire

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has defended its use of more than 100 pigs in explosive tests in Wiltshire.

Some 119 pigs were used in the research at the Government's military research laboratory Porton Down, near Salisbury, between 2006 and 2009.

The tests "saved many lives" in Iraq and Afghanistan due to improvements in post-traumatic techniques, junior defence minister Quentin Davies said.

He said 25 pigs were used in 2006, 19 in 2007, 40 in 2008, and 35 in 2009.

'Body trauma'

In a written reply to Stroud Labour MP David Drew, Mr Davies said the research had followed up on problems with "prolonged pre-hospital resuscitation following blast injury".

He added: "This research has led to significant advances in post-traumatic techniques, such as reducing blood loss from major trauma, and has saved many lives in the theatres of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The advances made due to this research can be utilised both in theatre and civilian scenarios particularly if there are mass casualties and evacuation to hospital is delayed."

A spokesman for the RSPCA said: "For many, such a use of animals represents a distressing example of the price animals can end up paying as a result of humans inhumanity towards other humans."

He said it was the society's understanding that the pigs are anaesthetised throughout the procedure and never regain consciousness.

"The MoD is required to conduct its research under the same regulations as any other institution in the UK using animals in scientific research and testing," he said.

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