PETA Says NASA Ending Monkey Experiments (UPDATED with NASA response)

PETA is proclaiming victory in their ongoing battle to stop radiation experiments on monkeys that had been planned by NASA.

Well, folks, you did it. After scores of protests and more than 100,000 letters, phone calls, and e-mails from PETA supporters--including some high-profile allies, such as Sir Paul McCartney, Bob Barker, Alicia Silverstone, members of Congress, and even a former NASA astronaut and engineer--the space agency has quietly called off plans to conduct cruel radiation experiments on monkeys.

We haven't gotten confirmation from NASA. The experiments caused at least one NASA employee to quit in protest, and we profiled April Evans and her fight in October.

The experiments, planned for the Brookhaven Institute in New York, were intended to, in PETA's language, have monkeys be "isolated in cages and subjected to years of behavioral experiments to measure the damage caused by the radiation. Such damage likely would have included brain damage, cataracts, cancerous tumors, loss of motor control, and early death."

NASA has defended the experiments as necessary; for the cover story linked above they referred questions to Brookhaven and McLean Hospital, both of which referred questions to NASA.

If we hear anything from the space agency we'll update. PETA, though, is happy:

"Cruelty to animals has no part in NASA's mission, and the agency's decision to call off this cruel experiment has us over the moon," said PETA Vice President of Laboratory Investigations Kathy Guillermo. "We believe that officials finally realized that blasting monkeys with radiation is plain old bad science."

Update: NASA has gotten back to us; the delay was partly attributable to yesterday's SpaceX launch.

They don't say they're stopping any projects, but they say they're reviewing all projects to see which are worth going forward with:

NASA is going to undertake a comprehensive review of the agency's current research and technology development plans to see how they align with the President's plan for human spaceflight, as outlined in the U.S. National Space Policy and the 2010 NASA Authorization Act. We look forward to the findings of that review, which will inform our decision making moving forward.

Which could mean anything, really.

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Richard Connelly
Contact: Richard Connelly