PCRM Confronts NASA Monkey Experiments
“Belmont, we have a problem,” proclaimed PCRM’s billboards and train station ads near McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. The ads alerted Belmont commuters to NASA-funded monkey radiation experiments taking place at McLean.
The $1.75 million experiments, proposed by McLean researcher Jack Bergman, Ph.D., involve exposing live squirrel monkeys to harmful radiation at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. The animals will then be shipped to McLean and compelled to perform tasks to test for cognitive impairment. The primates will be housed alone in steel cages for at least four years and subjected to daily restraint in primate chairs.
NASA is funding the monkey radiation experiments in an attempt to shed light on the effects of deep space radiation on a human astronaut bound for Mars. But PCRM says the taxpayer money slated for the experiments would be better spent on human-centered methods, including human simulators equipped with sensors.
“These experiments are both inhumane and scientifically unsound,” says John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM’s senior medical and research adviser. “Blasting squirrel monkeys with radiation won’t help us understand how humans can survive the complex dangers of interplanetary travel.”
On June 10, PCRM led a peaceful protest in front of McLean Hospital. The hospital was also presented with pledges from several primate sanctuaries willing to provide homes for the monkeys if McLean agrees to release them.