The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has announced its plans to conduct a series of tests that will involve blasting monkeys with radiation and then placing them inside of cramped metal cages so scientists can study them.
In total, some 30 squirrel monkeys (similar to the ones pictured above) will be exposed to high amounts of radiation as part of a series of tests to see how space missions might potentially harm human brains. These tests will cost the taxpayers close to $2 million.
The outcry against the NASA tests has been intense. The loudest protest has come from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which is challenging NASA every step of the way.
As Jeanne McVey of the PCRM notes: "Squirrel monkeys normally live in large groups in the treetops. The law says primates are so intelligent and so social that you have to provide for their psychological well-being." (Source)
These tests are a terrible idea. They're brutal. They cost the taxpayers a hell of a lot of money. And they represent a horrible violation of the rights of these squirrel monkeys.
The best Blog Entry I've read about the subject comes from neurologist, public health specialist and self-proclaimed "space geek" Dr. Aysha Akhtar, who writes on Huffington Post:
NASA's space program relies on incredibly sophisticated technology and represents a triumph of human ingenuity and imagination. This experiment is a step backwards for a forward-looking organization and contradicts what is best about NASA.
If you get a chance, read Akhtar's Blog Post in its entirety (by clicking the Huffington Post link above). It is as good as Blogging gets. And it explains, in a very succinct yet reasonable way, why these NASA tests are so awful. And so unnecessary.
And if you get a chance, send a letter or email to NASA telling them this is a bad idea. With enough of an outcry, maybe they'll begin to get the idea that people do not go for this unjustifiable and terrible treatment of our fellow animals.
Above all, NASA has no right to conduct these barbaric tests.