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5 November 2006

U-GOAT

Hundreds of animals die in agony in MoD sunken sub safety tests

Exclusive by Vincent Moss Political Editor

GOATS are being killed in "cruel" tests to find out what would happen to sailors trapped in sunken submarines.

The animals are put in decompression chambers under intense pressures - causing excruciating pain and the collapse of vital organs - at a base in southern England.

The Ministry of Defence has hired private firm QinetiQ to carry out experiments condemned by campaigners and politicians.

Defence Minister Adam Ingram revealed test data is shared with the French military and other countries to spare their goats.

But Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock said: "It's appallingly cruel. These experiments should be stopped immediately. Other countries have stopped their tests."

A spokeswoman for animal rights group PETA branded the tests "appalling and totally redundant."

She added: "Animals do not wage war so why should they suffer because humans do? The MoD could quite easily simulate this in laboratory conditions."

Animal rights activists estimate dozens of goats are killed each year - many after repeated experiments.

Officials said they used goats as their psychological behaviour in the chambers is similar to humans.

The tests are designed to see how much pressure crews could endure and how well they could survive the "bends" - an extreme form of decompression sickness. It is believed several hundred goats have been used over 10 years.

But Mr Ingram said the Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC) had investigated the tests in 2003 and said they should continue.

An MoD spokeswoman added that the DSAC had ruled there was "no alternative method to achieve the required levels of human safety without using animals".

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