Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Space Hero Umberto Guidoni Joins ADI to Ask Russia to Stop Mars Monkey Experiments

Posted: 30 July 2008


Italian Member of European Parliament Umberto Guidoni, former NASA and ESA astronaut, is asking the Russian Federal Space Agency to stop the use of primates in their Mars exploration programme

Following reports from the BBC in April that Russia intended to send primates to the planet Mars, Animal Defenders International (ADI) and Umberto Guidoni have decided to speak out together against these unnecessary and cruel experiments. ADI has written a letter to Russian Ambassador Yury Fedotov requesting an end to these tests, which can not be relied upon to produce successful, definitive results which are applicable to humans.

It is reported that Boris Lapin, the director of the Sochi Institute of Medical Primatology, will select macaques from the facility in an attempt to learn more about how humans will react to radiation exposure and prolonged weightlessness; conditions which may be experienced on a trip to the red planet. It will take two years of experiments at Sochi to select 40 macaques before the unfortunate animals will then be sent to the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow, where they will be submitted to further invasive tests. It should take another 10 years, at least, before the first flight to Mars, commiting these animals to a life of laboratory suffering.

An excerpt from the letter:

“There are countless examples of animal tests that have failed to produce a successful result directly applicable to human beings; the species divide is simply too great. It is true that we differ by only 2% DNA to primates, but our bodies react very differently to infection and disease. Many devastating consequences have been observed when scientists have relied on primate evidence to the detriment of human health. There is absolutely no guarantee that the radiation reaction in the laboratory monkeys will predict the effect on the human astronauts when they travel to Mars; thus endangering their lives. Russia is renowned for being proud of its history in space travel, but the way forward to excellence no longer needs to cause animal suffering. Animal Defenders International is therefore asking you to immediately influence a progressive change to approved non-animal research methods.”

Umberto Guidoni MEP, former European Space Agency astronaut who completed two missions onboard the Space Shuttle decided to support ADI’s request. In his letter to Mr Anatoly Perminov, the Director of the Russian Federal Space Agency, he proposed some alternatives to primate experimentation in spatial research:

“As former Astronaut and as a current Member of the European Parliament, I would like to express my concerns about the possibility that the Russian Space Agency could start a program of radiation experiments on monkeys, aimed to improve safety for future human flights to Mars.

I am fully aware of the importance of studying the effects of weightlessness and of high level of radiations on biological tissues. We need more information to address risks related to long duration space flights, especially in view of future manned mission to Mars. To improve our knowledge on how human body behaves in space, a comprehensive research activity is planned on board the International Space Station (ISS).

The European Space Agency (ESA) has started a program to monitor radiation levels on board ISS by using sophisticated sensors, such as those included in the Matroshka experiment facility. In this way, ESA is gathering important information that could allow designing better and more effective devices to protect astronauts during their space missions.”

Jan Creamer, CEO of ADI said: “The exploration of space is a source of immense pride and international prestige for the countries willing to risk the adventure. Sending macaques to Mars, however, is unlikely to glorify the nation achieving such a performance. The era of Laika, the first earthling to orbit the earth in 1957 is long gone, and the world’s public opinion is unlikely to glorify Russia for sending innocent creatures to their death on Mars. “


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