Following internal employee accusations that its animal testing is being rushed, resulting in needless suffering and deaths, Neuralink, a medical device business, is currently the subject of a federal inquiry.
In-depth details about Musk’s Neuralink faces federal inquiry after killing over 1500 animals in 4 years:
According to Reuters, the Inspector General of the US Department of Agriculture is apparently looking into possible Neuralink Corporation violations of animal welfare.
In response to pressure from Elon Musk, the wealthy CEO and owner of Twitter, the company has been accused of causing needless suffering and fatalities.
A neurotechnology startup called Neuralink wants to combine the human brain with cutting-edge software to develop cranial computers that can treat ailments. The implanted gadget would function as a kind of “digital layer” that combines human grey matter with cutting-edge technological technologies, as well as potentially curing brain disorders like epilepsy and Parkinson’s.
According to firm figures examined by Reuters, over 1,500 animals have perished as a result of Neuralink studies since 2018, including over 280 lambs, pigs, and monkeys. Neuralink has also used mice and rats in their research.
Due to the fact that numerous businesses routinely employ animals in research to promote human healthcare, the rate of deaths does not necessarily indicate that Neuralink is breaking the law or following accepted research procedures.
Instead, the federal probe was sparked by allegations from Neuralink staff members who contend that Musk’s order to expedite testing led to failed studies and needless animal deaths, infringing on the US Animal Welfare Act.
Reuters discovered four tests involving 86 pigs and two monkeys that were compromised in recent years by human error through business talks, staff interviews, and documentation spanning several years.
In one incident in 2021, 25 out of 60 pigs used in a study had gadgets implanted in their heads that were the incorrect size; this blunder may have been prevented with more planning. The experiment was redone with 36 lambs after one of the scientists expressed concern that the error would serve as a “red flag” to FDA reviewers of the paper. Following the processes, all of the animals—both the pigs and the sheep—were put to death.
Another time, during two separate procedures, staff members inserted the Neuralink device in the wrong vertebra of two different pigs, which prompted the business veterinarian to advise his colleagues to promptly kill one of the pigs to alleviate her agony.
Three current and former staff members claimed that all of these errors were the result of a hurried schedule, which eventually reduced the research value of the studies and necessitated the repeating of the tests, which resulted in the killing of additional animals.
Musk stated last week that he thinks Neuralink would implant one of its devices in a human brain within the next six months, prompting the probe. Prior to changing the target date to 2022 and then again to 2023, Musk had stated that he was pushing for human trials to start in 2020.
According to current and former employees, Musk may have chosen to encourage his staff to work harder in order to hasten Neuralink’s progress, which mainly depends on animal testing, in light of the research delays.
“We could make it possible for people to walk and use their hands again in daily life!” At 6:37 am (Pacific Time) earlier this year, Musk sent a message to the team. Ten minutes later, he added: “Generally speaking, we are simply not going quickly enough. It is making me crazy!
In an effort to push workers to move more quickly, Musk was overheard on many occasions encouraging them to pretend they had bombs strapped to their heads.
In the past, the organization has boasted about the high quality of care given to its animals in comparison to other research institutions. Company leaders have voiced their ambition of establishing a “Monkey Disneyland” in the company’s Austin, Texas, facility, and Musk has told employees he wants the monkeys at his San Francisco Bay Area operation to live in a “monkey Taj Mahal”.
However, this is not the first time Neuralink has been chastised for its treatment of animals. Following a collaboration with the University of California, Davis, an animal rights organization, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, filed a complaint with the USDA accusing the Neuralink-UC Davis initiative of botching surgery that resulted in the death of monkeys.
The researchers said that doctors used the incorrect surgical adhesive twice, causing two monkeys to suffer and eventually die, while other monkeys experienced various issues from the implants.
The company stated at the time that the deaths of six monkeys were caused by a problem with the adhesive in a “complication” from the usage of an “FDA-approved product.”
Neuralink now tests on sheep, pigs, rats, mice, and monkeys, and the Food and Drug Administration has not granted approval for human trials (FDA). However, the company’s facilities have passed all USDA inspections.
Elon Musk has also come under fire for his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter. The transaction instantly resulted in major company layoffs, modifications to the social media site’s content moderation procedures, and even fears that the platform would be taken offline.
The dispute has also impacted the stock prices of Tesla and SpaceX, both of which are controlled by the world’s richest man.