The animal rights group PETA sent a letter to the Pentagon on Monday, demanding that they cease testing on live animals in their quest to understand the mysterious ailments known as “Havana syndrome.”
Havana syndrome was first reported in 2016 by diplomats working at the U.S. embassy in Cuba, who reported a strange set of symptoms ranging from cognitive problems to hearing and vision loss. Since then, hundreds of other U.S. personnel around the world have experienced similar ailments.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence concluded in a report earlier this month that it is “very unlikely” a foreign adversary is responsible for the symptoms, attributing them instead to “preexisting conditions, conventional illnesses, and environmental factors.”
Despite that conclusion, the Department of Defense is continuing their research into whether a weapon system could have caused the health incidents.
That research should not include testing on live animals, which is not only “cruel and wasteful” but also “futile,” PETA science policy adviser Maggie Wiśniewska wrote in a letter to the Pentagon on Monday.
“We again urge you to renew the ban on weapon-wounding tests on dogs, cats, marine animals, and nonhuman primates,” Wiśniewska wrote in the letter.
“Such a prohibition should apply to but not be limited to the following: an apparent military plan to expose monkeys to pulsed microwave radiation in a misguided attempt to determine human brain effected associated with an acquired neurosensory syndrome, commonly referred to as ‘Havana syndrome.’”
Politico first reported last week that the U.S. Army gave a $750,000 research grant to Wayne State University to study whether ferrets exhibit similar symptoms to “Havana syndrome” when they are exposed to radio frequency waves.
Wiśniewska went on to argue that animal testing is counterproductive because many of the results don’t translate to humans, writing that other more effective methods are available.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday evening.