In Defense of Animals (IDA), an international animal protection organization with over 85,000 members, today released letters from celebrities opposed to NASA-funded experiments. The experiments, which NASA wants conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), involve irradiating squirrel monkeys. IDA and the International Primate Protection League (IPPL), a South Carolina-based non-profit dedicated to protecting the world’s primates, filed a complaint about the experiments.
The celebrities signed on to the IDA-drafted letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr., and BNL Director Dr. Samuel Aronson. Those who have signed to date are: Woody Harrelson, Zachary Quinto, Alicia Silverstone, James Cromwell, Allison Janney, Kristen Bell, Emily Deschanel, and Elizabeth Perkins.
NASA’s proposed experiments would inundate these tiny monkeys – only a foot tall – with one massive burst of gamma radiation equal to a 3-year journey to Mars and back. Since the 1950′s, thousands of primates have been exposed to various dosages of radiation including radio frequency, microwave, X-ray, gamma, electron, proton, neutron and other particle radiation. Studies have already shown that gamma radiation can cause depressive behavior, immobility, hyperirritability, convulsions, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, hair loss, open sores, skin hemorrhages, and even death.Previous research has also proven that animals of different species – even of different strains of the same species – react differently to radiation, which calls into question the experiments’ scientific value in advancing protection for human astronauts.
NASA has already committed $1.75 million in taxpayer money to the experiments. NASA wants BNL – a lab run by the Department of Energy – to conduct the radiation portion of the experiments. BNL has not yet decided to proceed. The experiments are being reviewed by BNL’s safety, science, and animal welfare committees.
Copies of the IDA/IPPL complaint and the celebrities’ letters are available upon request. For more information, please visit www.idausa.org.