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NASA withdraws consideration of controversial primate research (Updated)

squirellmonkey.jpgNASA announced that it has decided put a hold on a controversial experiment at Brookhaven National Lab (BNL) in Upton, New York, according to a statement that appeared on BNL’s website on 12 December. The experiment, the agency’s first research involving primates in at least two decades, would expose squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) to charged-particle radiation in an attempt to help determine safe levels for astronauts on lengthy missions.

Though officials at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in Norfolk, Virginia issued a statement on 8 December saying that the experiment is canceled, both BNL and NASA deny this.

The decision is pending a comprehensive review of “current research and technology development plans to see how they align with the President’s plan for human spaceflight,” according to a response to PETA’s claim posted on NASA’s website the same day.

“A decision will be made when the review is completed, depending on whether it’s still deemed to be a value added experiment,” says NASA spokesman Michael Braukus.

After NASA posted it’s statement, BNL issued their clarification. “NASA told us we should withdraw the experiment from consideration,” says BNL spokesman Pete Genzer. “It could be put back in the queue.”

Previously: Row over NASA primate-radiation experiment

Update: 14 December: A previous version of this post claimed that the Brookhaven experiment had been canceled. It has been updated to reflect the fact that the experiment is currently on hold.

Image: Wikimedia

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