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Animal rights activists to protest at McLean

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The research monkeys have yet to arrive in Belmont, but the animal right activists will be there on Thursday. Several groups have scheduled a protest against a planned NASA-sponsored experiment that will bring lab monkeys to McLean psychiatric hospital.

Here’s what the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – a group that opposes animal experiments – has to say:

Ever since PCRM learned about NASA’s plans to irradiate squirrel monkeys in a misguided attempt to learn about human space travel, PCRM has been urging the space agency to cancel the experiments before they begin. Now, we are broadening our efforts by carrying this message directly to McLean Hospital, the Belmont, Mass., facility where the experiments will take place. The experiments haven’t begun, which means there is still have time to save the monkeys from harmful radiation exposure. On Thursday, June 10, join PCRM physicians for a peaceful demonstration at McLean Hospital:

Here’s what McLean Hospital has to say. From a statement released yesterday:

In November, 2009, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced that McLean Hospital will receive research funding to investigate the neurocognitive and medical effects of particular types of space radiation that astronauts will experience during future space explorations.

This work was selected for funding because it will fill a critical gap in information that is needed to understand the risks to our astronauts in planned space missions. However, McLean has not yet received any funding for this work and no research on behalf of NASA is currently being conducted at McLean.

Facts about the proposed study:

o At no time will any participants in this research study be exposed to space radiation at McLean Hospital.

o Currently, there is very little information on the neurocognitive effects of particular types of space radiation; NASA considers this work essential to understanding the biological effects of future space exploration.

o Subjects will receive a one-time exposure of very low levels of space radiation at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, NY.)

o The space radiation exposure level will be similar to what an astronaut will encounter on a deep space mission (e.g., moon or Mars missions).

o This exposure will occur under very carefully monitored conditions and is not intended to produce sickness or physical damage that is associated with other types of radiation found on earth.

o Following radiation exposure, subjects will move to McLean, where they will live in a social environment, in full accord with federal guidelines for housing and enrichment and with full veterinary oversight and care.

o McLean Hospital researchers will non-invasively study subjects for cognitive behavior and medical changes only.

For more on the opposition to animal research go to the New England Anti-Vivisection Society.

For more from the supporters of animal research go to the Foundation for Biomedical Research.

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