Chemical and biological warfare experiments on humans


Since the twenties, the research laboratory at Porton Down, UK, has been exposing soldiers to a variety of chemicals, including nerve gases, mustard gas and the riot control weapons CS and CR gas. Some of the troops were subjected to tests in the chambers without protective equipment or clothing. It is believed to be the longest-running chemical warfare testing programme in the Western world. There was one brief break in 1951 after a serviceman died in an experiment in which nerve gas was applied to his arm.

Another unethical biological experiment on black Americans was the Tuskegee Syphilis Study conducted in the 1930s in Alabama.


As reported in 1995, the UK Ministry of Defence built a new £3.5 million top secret complex for carrying out chemical warfare experiments on human guinea pigs at Porton Down in Wiltshire. Between 100 to 200 servicemen each year were involved in the tests, which are said to be necessary to evaluate the effects of chemical weapons on unprotected humans and to develop protection against such weapons.


Aside from the one death at Porton Down, the chemical warfare experiments have not harmed the health of any of the servicemen who were exposed to very low and medically safe concentrations of chemicals.

Counter Claim:

A growing number of servicemen who volunteered for the chemical warfare experiments at Porton Down are now campaigning for compensation, believing that their health has been damaged.

Type Classification:
G: Very Specific strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure