One NASA engineer has publicly resigned over the agency’s plans to test radiation on monkeys.
The proposed experiment by NASA to spend 1.75 million dollars on irradiating 18 squirrel monkeys has drawn extensive protest from anti-vivisection and animal rights groups. A spokesman for NASA has said the experiment is under review and may or may not actually happen.
April Evans, the engineer who resigned, said she learned of the experiment because protests relating to it had caused traffic jams near the facility where she works. She said she had trouble believing the experiment was real.
Once she confirmed the tests were in fact real, she filed protests with her bosses. When her protests went unheeded, she resigned out of frustration at what she saw as “unnecessary” experiments, the results of which she thinks won’t even apply to human beings.
Those in the vivisection community like to portray those who protest tests like these as being uneducated, vegan fundamentalists. April Evans is none of those things. She’s a NASA engineer who isn’t even vegetarian. She simply recognizes the absurd and unnecessary nature of these experiments.
It’s not clear if the outcry about the cruel nature of the experiments has had any bearing on the review process.
Evans asserts that not only will these tests not produce results that are applicable to human physiology, but that NASA is going in the wrong direction entirely with its plans for dealing with radiation in outer space. Evans insists the agency should be spending money finding ways to prevent radiation from entering vehicles, not treating radiation poisoning once it is inside.
NASA’s budget of $18.69 billion for 2010 is more than enough to find alternatives to animal testing. Animal testing is already pointless, scientifically unsound and cruel. But animal testing for the purpose of outer space research plays like some kind of ridiculous blend of science fiction and horror.
With all the problems here on Earth, if we’re going to burn through almost $19 billion in a year to pursue sci-fi fantasies, the least we can ask of NASA is that they not torture animals in the process. It seems like such a small thing to ask of an agency that is using so much of our tax money.
Photo: Bernt Rostad