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Animal rights groups are apparently not pleased with NASA's plan to zap squirrel monkeys with repeated doses of radiation for science.

The US space agency will expose between 18 to 28 of the moneys to low doses of radiation daily to better understand the effects of long-term exposure outside Earth's protective magnetic shield.

American anti-animal testing group, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, has launched a protest asking concerned citizens to tell NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to put a stop the experiment.

"Radiation experiments involving nonhuman primates commonly involve restraint and other cruel procedures," the organization claims. "Monkeys, like other primates, are highly intelligent, have strong family bonds, demonstrate empathy, and, most importantly, suffer."

PCRM describes itself as a group of "doctors and laypersons working together for compassionate and effective medical practice, research, and health promotion."

Despite said claimed similarities between primates and man in the scope of disliking getting strapped down and irradiated, the org asserts that the genetic, physiological, and anatomical differences the species will "dramatically limit" useful conclusions that could be drawn from the study.

And, in case there was any doubt, PETA also has a problem with induced monkey radioactivity as well:

PETA writes in a blog post Friday of the cruelties of having monkeys "spend the rest of their lives being forced to perform a host of 'behavioral tasks' to assess how the radiation affected their brains." It goes on to say that although NASA assures the monkeys won't be killed, "they left out the teensy detail that earlier radiation experiments NASA has conducted on monkeys have caused the animals to suffer from fatal cancers, including brain tumors."

The group itself, however, leaves out that the monkeys won't actually spend the rest of their lives being irradiated, but will afterwards retire to the McLean Hospital in Boston where veterinarians and staff will oversee their health.

PETA said it sent a letter to NASA protesting the experiment last week, but hasn't yet heard back from the space agency. ®

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