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The Physicians Committee



NASA Engineer Resigns to Protest Agency’s Monkey Radiation Experiments

squirrel monkeyIn today’s economy, it takes courage to walk away from a job. It takes conviction if it’s the job you dreamt of since childhood. Recently, April Evans left NASA when the agency refused to address her concerns—and those of a growing number of scientists—about its misguided plan to irradiate squirrel monkeys. Now, you can join Evans and ask NASA to stop the cruel experiments.

Evans was faced with the obvious concerns about animal research that has no applicability to human health when she learned of NASA’s plan in January. NASA’s proposal to expose monkeys to radiation to try to understand the effects of long-distance human spaceflight is a prime example of this futile and frustrating research.

Evans’ decision to quit NASA, where she was an engineer who worked on NASA’s International Space Station, has received extensive coverage, including a story in the Houston Chronicle.

NASA’s current plans constitute a massive waste of taxpayer dollars to study the effects of a few minutes of radiation exposure on two-pound squirrel monkeys in a futile attempt to determine the effects of months or years of space travel on 180-pound human astronauts. That $1.75 million should be allocated toward modern nonanimal alternatives, such as anthropomorphic phantoms, which are proven more accurate than animal experiments.

NASA has already conducted four decades of space radiation experiments on nonhuman primates. But the research was halted in 1990 because it failed to advance even the most basic safety aspects of space travel. The reason is simple: Data derived from radiation experiments in animals do not translate to humans.



 

PCRM Online, August 2010

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