Elon Musk’s brain implant firm, Neuralink, is being investigated by the federal government for allegedly breaking the Animal Welfare Act, according to Reuters.
Reuters reported that the investigation was launched by the US Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General. It focuses on the Animal Welfare Act, which specifies how researchers should care for and test animals.
Musk’s goal of speeding up research has resulted in avoidable animal suffering, resulting in a rise in the number of test animals killed.
According to Reuters, Neuralink has killed 1,500 animals since 2018. The great majority of animals killed are most likely rats and mice, and fundamental scientific research around the world uses both of these animals as disease lab models.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine has also questioned Neuralink’s testing methods, claiming that the firm has mutilated animals in its pursuit of a brain-machine interface.
In February, Neuralink reacted to all accusations with a blog post outlining their “commitment to animal welfare.” The post detailed the experiments it has been conducting on pigs and monkeys and future plans.
According to the blog post, six animals were euthanized at the suggestion of veterinary personnel at UC Davis, a collaborator in the company’s animal studies. The causes differed. One animal died due to a surgical complication connected to a biological adhesive called BioGlue, another died due to a problem with the brain chip itself, and four animals were killed due to brain chip-related infections.
Musk stated during a “show and tell” event on Nov. 30 that the company would push for human testing of its latest brain chip within the next six months. First, it will need approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for its medical device to conduct such a trial.
Musk demonstrated a video of a monkey “telepathically typing” on a screen in front of it during the event. Furthermore, Musk stated last year that Neuralink had implanted a wireless implant into a monkey, allowing it to play video games with its mind.