PCRM Urges NASA Inspector General to Block Monkey Experiment
A proposed NASA-funded experiment will bombard squirrel monkeys with harmful ionizing radiation to test the dangers of interplanetary travel, according to a government document recently uncovered by PCRM.
PCRM physician John Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., and other PCRM experts obtained the research protocol through the Freedom of Information Act and conducted an in-depth analysis. In February, PCRM submitted a formal legal petition to NASA’s Office of the Inspector General demanding a full investigation of this $1.75 million experiment.
“NASA’s monkey radiation experiments are profoundly cruel,” says Dr. Pippin. “They are also unscientific. That is, they will not give NASA the information it is looking for.”
From the protocol, PCRM experts learned that the squirrel monkeys will be housed individually in steel cages. After bombarding the animals with radiation, researchers will test them for cognitive impairment.
NASA has not used monkeys for radiobiology research since 1990, when government researchers ended four decades of radiation experiments on monkeys after concluding that monkey data did not translate to humans. The experiments were the basis of the 1987 movie Project X. Many researchers—including NASA scientists—now use high-tech, human-centered methods of studying space radiation exposure.
Bill Maher Calls on NASA to Drop Monkey Radiation Plan
Talk show host Bill Maher has joined PCRM in urging NASA to halt its plan to irradiate live squirrel monkeys. In January, Maher wrote a letter to NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr.
“Years ago, NASA and the Air Force sponsored extensive radiation research on monkeys,” Maher wrote. “Those experiments did not answer the important questions about human radiation exposures, and many experts doubt that this new experiment will do so either. There are better, more humane ways of understanding the potential dangers of interplanetary travel for humans.”