Elon Musk’s Neuralink Faces Federal Probe, Employee Backlash Over Animal Tests

Elon Musk’s Neuralink, a medical device company, is under US federal investigation for possible animal welfare violations amid staff complaints that its animal tests are being sped up, causing unnecessary suffering and death.

Neuralink is developing a brain implant that it hopes will help paralyzed people walk again and cure other neurological ailments.

The previously unreported federal investigation was opened in recent months by the US Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General at the request of a federal prosecutor, according to two sources with knowledge of the investigation.

The investigation, one of the sources said, focuses on violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which governs how researchers treat and test some animals.

The investigation came at a time of growing dissent from employees about Neuralink’s animal testing, including complaints that Musk’s pressure to speed up development resulted in failed experiments, according to a Reuters review of dozens of documents and reports. . Neuralink interviews with more than 20 current and external experts. former employees.

Such failed tests have had to be repeated, increasing the number of animals being tested and killed, employees said.

Musk and other Neuralink executives did not respond to requests for comment.

Reuters could not determine the full scope of the federal investigation or whether it involved the same alleged problems with animal testing identified by employees in Reuters interviews.

A spokesman for the USDA inspector general declined to comment. US regulations do not specify how many animals companies can use for research and give scientists significant leeway in determining when and how to use animals in experiments.

Neuralink has passed all USDA inspections of its facilities, regulatory documents show.

In all, the company has killed some 1,500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys, following experiments since 2018, according to records reviewed by Reuters and sources with direct knowledge of the company’s animal testing operations. .

Sources characterized that figure as a rough estimate because the company does not keep accurate records on the number of animals tested and euthanized.

Neuralink has also done research on rats and mice.


The total number of animal deaths does not necessarily indicate that Neuralink is violating standards or standard research practices.

Many companies routinely use animals in experiments to improve human health care, and face financial pressure to get products to market quickly.

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