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The Physicians Committee



PCRM Confronts NASA over Monkey Radiation Experiment

squirrel monkeyPCRM doctors are urging NASA to leave monkeys out of the space race. The space agency recently approved a proposal to conduct radiation studies on live squirrel monkeys.

In the planned experiment, researcher Jack Bergman will irradiate squirrel monkeys in an attempt to understand what might happen to humans on long-term space flights, such as a trip to Mars. Bergman has used squirrel monkeys for 15 years in addiction experiments that have involved applying electric shocks, withholding food, and completely immobilizing the animals in restraint chairs for extended periods.

The space studies—which will be conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York—involve exposing the monkeys to a blast of radiation and testing their performance on various tasks.

In November, PCRM filed a petition for administrative action to compel NASA to suspend the experiments. PCRM’s petition points out that the experiments violate the standards of the Sundowner Report, a landmark 1996 NASA policy that requires researchers to respect living creatures and to consider the full range of societal good that may come from an experiment.

In addition to the obvious humane concerns, the scientific rationale for the experiments is thin. “Genetic, physiological, and anatomical differences between humans and monkeys dramatically limit the conclusions that can be drawn,” wrote PCRM director of research policy Hope Ferdowsian, M.D., M.P.H., in the petition. “Ongoing studies, including those funded by NASA and the U.S. Department of Energy, already use nonanimal methods to determine the effects of radiation on human tissues.”

Ask NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr. to end these monkey experiments. Call Bolden’s office at 202-358-0000.





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