'Don't Nuke the Monkeys': Billboards, Ads, Demonstration Target Cruel NASA Experiments
“Belmont, we have a problem: Don’t nuke the monkeys.” Billboards and train station ads bearing that message alerted commuters in Belmont, Mass., to controversial radiation experiments taking place in their town. PCRM placed the pleas near Belmont’s McLean Hospital, the planned site of NASA-funded space radiation experiments on live squirrel monkeys.
On June 10, PCRM also led a peaceful demonstration in front of McLean Hospital. The hospital was presented with pledges from several primate sanctuaries willing to provide homes for the monkeys should McLean Hospital agree to release them.
“McLean Hospital needs to get out of the monkey business,” says John J. Pippin, M.D., F.A.C.C., PCRM’s senior medical and research adviser. “Blasting tiny squirrel monkeys with radiation won’t help us understand how humans can survive the complex dangers of interplanetary travel. This experiment is inhumane, scientifically unsound, and a huge waste of taxpayer money.”
The $1.75 million experiment, proposed by McLean researcher Jack Bergman, involves exposing squirrel monkeys to harmful radiation at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The animals will then be shipped to McLean and compelled to perform tasks to test for cognitive impairment. These highly intelligent and social 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 experiment in an attempt to shed light on the effects of deep space radiation on a human astronaut bound for Mars. But the taxpayer money slated for the experiment would be better spent on human-centered methods, including human phantoms equipped with sensors. One of the many scientific flaws in McLean’s experiment is that the monkeys will not be exposed to a true simulation of deep space radiation.