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Celebrities Speak Out Against NASA’s Monkey Radiation Experiments

February 18th, 2010 by Barbara Stagno

This is Baker, a squirrel monkey who was one of the first animals to survive a NASA spaceflight.  Photo Credit : NASA

This is Baker, a squirrel monkey who was one of the first animals to survive a NASA spaceflight. Photo Credit : NASA

On Tuesday, IDA released letters from seven celebrities opposed to upcoming animal experiments funded by NASA. The experiments are part of a study entitled “Long-term Effects of Space Radiation in Nonhuman Primates” and they would involve irradiating squirrel monkeys at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), a Department of Energy facility in New York State.

The celebrities signed on to the IDA-drafted letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., and Brookhaven National Laboratory Director Dr. Samuel Aronson. Those who have signed to date include Alicia Silverstone, James Cromwell, Zachary Quinto, Allison Janney, Woody Harrelson, Kristen Bell, Emily Deschanel, and Elizabeth Perkins. Click here to send your own message to Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Department of Energy.

NASA’s proposed experiment would expose these tiny monkeys – only a foot tall – to one massive burst of gamma radiation equal to a three-year journey to Mars and back. Since the 1950s, thousands of monkeys have been exposed to various dosages of radiation, including radio frequency, microwave, X-ray, gamma, electron, proton, neutron and other particle radiation. Scientists have already shown that gamma radiation can cause depressive behavior, immobility, hyperirritability, convulsions, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, hair loss, open sores, skin hemorrhages, and even death.

Previous research has also proven that animals of different species – even of different strains of the same species – react differently to radiation, which calls into question the proposed experiment’s scientific value for human astronauts. These objections and more were included in an official complaint to NASA and BNL sent jointly by IDA and the International Primate Protection League (IPPL). IDA’s anti-vivisection team worked with Shirley McGreal of IPPL on the complaint – challenging the experiments on scientific grounds and citing fatal flaws, such as redundancy, species differences, and available alternatives already in use.

NASA has already committed $1.75 million in taxpayer money to the experiment. BNL is expected to conduct the radiation portion of the experiment, but BNL has not yet made the final decision on whether it will do so. According to conversations with PR officials at BNL, the experiment is currently being reviewed by BNL’s safety, science, and animal welfare committees. If you have not already done so, please take the time to send a letter condemning these experiments to Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Department of Energy.

Thanks for standing with us against these experiments. We will provide updates when we know more.

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  97. February 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm, Sparky said:

    Do you all really think that the US Government gets its kicks off of torturing animals? Or, does it make more sense to believe that while the use of animals is not preferred, that sometimes animals may need to be used in efforts to better humanity? I hardly believe there is some diabolical plot to torture monkeys for fun. Stop believing that you know better than educated scientists and researchers. I seriously doubt after all their years of training and experience, that their grand plan for exploring the cosmos is “torture monkeys for fun”. Grow up.

    • May 13, 2010 at 10:06 am, Myela said:

      No one believes that people (scientists or not) are trying to torture monkeys (although you my friend, would be naive to think that people don’t get kicks from torturing others- because believe it or not, there are crazy people with college degrees-watch the news more). In fact the question is not whether or not these scientists are doing this for fun..it’s whether or not what they are doing is okay and it is not. Torturing others is not right. Torturing others for your own selfish reasons is worse..how could you even justify that? Why don’t people understand that what goes around comes around? And not just for the torturers themselves but also for those who quietly support them.

  98. February 23, 2010 at 5:08 am, Anne said:

    Hi Larry and Delma:

    I agree with both of your posts; thanks for thinking of the Critters ! the us gov is truly getting outta control! esp. NASA; what will it take for them to “lighten up; why is space travel so important anyway? there is nothing on the other planets ! imo A.
    the only think Mars is good for is dumping toxic waste(because if we continue to dump on earth; no good; imo

  99. February 22, 2010 at 8:12 am, Delma said:

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  100. February 19, 2010 at 7:53 am, Larry K said:

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