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Musk's Neuralink faces U.S. federal probe, employee backlash over animal tests

06.12.2022 04:39 AM
Musk's Neuralink faces U.S. federal probe, employee backlash over animal tests
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Musk's Neuralink faces U.S. federal probe, employee backlash over animal tests

It seems that the joy of the owner of the company, "Twitter", the American billionaire Elon Musk, was not complete. His company, "Neuralink" for medical devices, is facing a federal investigation into allegations of possible violations of animal rights, in addition to complaints from employees of the company about accelerating experiments on animals, which caused death. Much of it unnecessarily, according to documents reviewed by Reuters and sources familiar with the investigation and the company's operations.

Note that Neuralink is developing a chip implanted in the brain that it hopes will help paralyzed people walk again, as well as treat other neurological diseases.

Two people familiar with the matter said the USDA Inspector General launched the federal investigation, which has not been previously reported, in the past few months at the request of a federal prosecutor.

One of the sources said the investigation focused on violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which governs how researchers treat and experiment with animals.

The investigation came at a time of growing opposition by Neuralink employees to its animal testing, including complaints that pressure from the company's chief executive to accelerate research had led to failed experiments, according to a Reuters review of dozens of company documents and interviews with more than 20 current employees.

Employees say that failed experiments have led to them being repeated, increasing the number of animals being tested and subsequently killed. The company documents include previously undisclosed letters, audio recordings, emails, presentations and reports.

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

A spokesman for the USDA Inspector General declined to comment.

US regulations do not limit the number of animals companies can use for research, leaving scientists free to decide when and how to use animals in experiments.

Neuralink has passed all USDA inspections of its facilities, as demonstrated by its regulatory disclosures.

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

The sources described this figure as a rough estimate because the company does not keep accurate records on how many animals it experiments with before killing them. Neuralink has also tested mice.

Many companies routinely use animals in experiments to advance human health care and are facing financial pressure to bring products to market quickly. Animals are usually killed when experiments are completed, and are often subjected to post-kill necropsies for research purposes as well.

Musk caused a major uproar after his decision to buy the company "Twitter" in a huge deal amounting to 44 billion dollars, as he reversed the decision and entered into a legal battle with the social media giant before moving forward with the deal, laying off many of its employees and imposing fees on the blue verification mark to raise concern. regarding the company's future.

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