Our story about a NASA space radiation study that will use
squirrel monkeys as subjects caught the eye -- and ire -- of a group known as
the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which is
petitioning NASA administrator Charlie Bolden to stop the project.
“Irradiating monkeys would be one giant leap backward for
NASA,” the group’s director of research policy Hope Ferdowsian said in a
statement. “The proposed experiments are cruel, unnecessary, and lack
scientific merit. There are better, more humane ways of understanding the
potential dangers of interplanetary travel to humans. Scientific progress can
only proceed with a strong ethical foundation.”
The petition claims that the research violates several
mandates of the agency’s “Principles for the Ethical Care and Use of Animals” report.
physiological, and anatomical differences between humans and monkeys
dramatically limit the conclusions that can be drawn from the planned
experiments,” the petition states.
“Ongoing studies, including those funded by NASA and the
U.S. Department of Energy, already use nonanimal methods to determine the
effects of low-dose radiation on human tissues,” Ferdowsian wrote.
The group also questions the need for this type of research,
claiming that “Interplanetary human travel is, at best, a highly speculative