It was an outrage. NASA was planning on reviving an old experiment on squirrel monkeys. They were to be given harmful amounts of radiation and then forced to live the life of a laboratory animal — caged for years — and endure countless experiments.
The reason given was to test the effects of radiation on astronauts. Experiments to measure brain damage, loss of motor control, cataracts, and cancerous tumors were expected to result in early death.
The obvious question that needed to be asked was: why?
What sort of information would these experiments give NASA regarding radiation exposure to astronauts in space? The same tests had been done years before. The results already gave enough scientific proof that radiation is dangerous.
So many people protested that NASA has quietly abandoned the experiments. PETA, HSUS and a multitude of individuals wrote, called, signed petitions and spread the word. There is power in numbers and NASA’s removal of primate research at Brookhaven National Laboratory is proof of that power.
Aside from the numerous celebrities that protested – Sir Paul McCartney, Alicia Silverstone, Bob Barker – a NASA engineer, April Evans, resigned over it. She recognized the futility and stood up for her beliefs.
Thanks to the many who took action, NASA has cancelled these useless experiments. At least eighteen squirrel monkeys are safe for the time being.
Photo credit: New Jersey Birds via flickr