For Immediate Release:
July 21, 2023
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Durham, N.C. – PETA is urging Duke University to stop its agonizing and ineffective decompression sickness experiments conducted on mice for the U.S. Navy, which bankrolls the tests with nearly $1 million in taxpayer funds.
In Duke experimenter Heath Gasier’s tests, mice are forced to run on a treadmill and are electroshocked if they can’t keep up. He also induces seizures in baby mice, confines them to a decompression chamber for up to 60 minutes at a time to induce the “bends,” and injects them with experimental substances before ultimately killing them.
The Navy also funds decompression studies at the universities of San Diego, South Florida, and Maryland. PETA sent letters to the leadership at these institutions urging them to stop conducting the tests and to Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin and Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro noting that many non-animal research methods are more applicable to humans, including in vitro studies, reanalysis of existing human diver data, machine-learning techniques, and computer modeling. Decompression sickness, commonly called “the bends,” and oxygen toxicity affect species in disparate ways because of major physiological differences between them.
“The Navy can’t claim to be a world leader as long as it continues tormenting animals in barbaric decompression sickness and oxygen toxicity tests that it knows are irrelevant to human health,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on Duke and secretaries Austin and Del Toro to switch to superior, human-relevant methods, as France and the U.K. have done, and stop wasting taxpayers’ money and animals’ lives.”
Last year, the Navy ended its funding of decompression tests conducted on sheep at the University of Wisconsin–Madison up to two years ahead of schedule following a PETA appeal to Del Toro that was cosigned by retired Rear Admiral Dr. Marion Balsam.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information about PETA’s investigative newsgathering and reporting, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.