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5 October 2010
...and calls on the public to protest to the US & Russian Embassies
Animal Defenders International (ADI), the leading animal welfare organisation that works globally for the protection of animals, has launched a major international drive to stop NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) from performing radiation experiments on monkeys as part of plans to travel to mars.
The ADI offices in Los Angeles have instigated a campaign in Congress to halt the NASA experiments and the London headquarters of ADI are co-ordinating a global drive urging people to contact the US and Russian Embassies.
The campaign has attracted the backing of astronauts, former NASA employees, and a commitment from the European Space Agency not to perform monkey experiments.
At the heart of the new campaign is a compelling 4-minute video entitled 'Space Experiments on Monkeys - One Giant Leap Backwards' which recaps the prior use of animals in space research, cites reasons NASA's irradiation experiments are flawed and premature, and presents viable alternatives to primate testing. The DVD also includes an exclusive ten-minute interview with April Evans, former NASA engineer who explains she resigned her dream job with one of the world's top space agencies because of NASA's radiation tests. Both videos are also being launched online as part of a major awareness drive.
Every member of the US Congress will receive a copy of the DVD and copies will be sent to the US and Russian Embassies around the world.
Tim Phillips, Animal Defenders International campaign director said, "These tests are cruel, unnecessary, premature and a waste of $1.75 US million of taxpayers' money. Our video shows that these monkey experiments have been criticised from every side, scientists, animal protectionists, astronauts, former NASA employees, and even the European Space Agency. We are not opposed to space exploration, but these experiments are cruel folly."
The video reveals the horrific nature of the monkey experiments which will include: Burns, weakness, hair loss, failing organs and nausea. It also points out that there are already a significant number of sources for data on the impacts of high doses of radiation on humans including the victims of atomic bombs, X-rays and radiotherapy, the nuclear power industry, and astronauts who have spent time in space.
Tim Phillips said: "Those in the space programme often talk in lofty terms that this is about making advances for the whole of humankind. We want the world to make it clear that this cruelty is not in our name, and there are plenty of people in the space research community who agree with us."
Cosmonaut Valentin Lebedev, who set a world record for time in space, describes the tests as "inadmissible for humane reasons" citing the wealth of data available from astronauts.
Jim Bates, NASA retired, formerly Co-Chairman of the JSC Space Radiation Environment Group (SREG) 1968-1970, has noted the decades of similar experiments on animals and said: "We have probably sacrificed enough monkeys for these data, something else is needed."
The European Space Agency's (ESA) Director Jean-Jacques Dordain stated that he and ESA categorically opposed and "declines any interest in monkey research and does not consider any need or use for such results." The statement confirms the unnecessary character of NASA's tests and reveals the uneasiness of a large segment of the scientific community involved in space research about the use of monkeys in experiments.
Tim Phillips said: "These experiments are wrong every way that you look at them. There is a wealth of data available and alternatives which include cell and tissue culture study, the simulated human torso in space, and the use of scanning techniques to examine neurological function in patients undergoing partial brain radiotherapy. Even if you ignore all of this, NASA does not yet have the shielding technology to protect the astronauts on such a mission, and this would determine any type radiation exposure, so these tests are shamefully premature."
Aerospace engineer April Evans resigned her position earlier this year as a space architect on the International Space Station (ISS) program because of NASA's decision to conduct primate irradiation testing. Evans believes this experiment is a major step backward for NASA's animal testing record.
"After much deliberation, I resigned from NASA because I could not support the scientific justification for this monkey radiobiology experiment," Evans wrote in a letter to Samuel Aronson, director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, which was contracted by NASA to conduct the tests on squirrel monkeys.
"NASA needs to focus on developing space radiation shielding because both astronauts and hardware are at risk from the space radiation environment, an issue that will have to be addressed by all space agencies. Space vehicle radiation shielding is necessary technology for a sustainable long-term human space exploration program and scientists and engineers should be given the chance and time to advance shielding technology."
For more information on the campaign, visit: http://www.ad-international.org/NASA where you can view and download the videos and join in the fight to stop NASA's planned experiments.
Please address polite letters to NASA requesting that they reconsider financing such horrific experiments by writing to NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden Jr, Public Communications Office, NASA Headquarters, Suite 5K39,Washington, DC, 20546-0001
Please write to the US Ambassador saying you oppose the NASA experiments: Mr Louis B. Susman, US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London, W1A 1AE.
Please write to the Russian Ambassador saying you oppose Russia's Mars500 experiments: Mr Yury Fedotov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation, 13 Kensington Gardens, London W8 4QX.
About Animal Defenders International (ADI):
With offices in London, Los Angeles, and Bogota, Animal Defenders International (ADI) campaigns to protect animals in entertainment; replacement of animals in experiments; worldwide traffic in endangered species; vegetarianism; factory farming; pollution and conservation. ADI also rescues animals in distress worldwide. ADI-gathered evidence has led to campaigns and legislative action all over the world to protect them.
ADI's Mission: To educate, create awareness, and promote the interest of humanity in the cause of justice, and the suppression of all forms of cruelty to animals wherever possible to alleviate suffering, and to conserve and protect animals and the environment.