Neuralink — a brain chip company founded by 1997 College and Wharton graduate Elon Musk — issued a response to a lawsuit alleging animal abuse by the company.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine announced lawsuits against both Neuralink and the University of California, Davis. UC Davis received over $1.4 million from Neuralink to carry out testing on macaque monkeys for the development of the brain chips. The PCRM alleged that the experimental brain chips caused the monkeys to suffer severe health issues and death when they were implanted, WFLA reported.
Neuralink is a neurotechnology company focused on developing brain-machine implants. Earlier this year, Neuralink started the process of conducting human trials and was looking to hire a clinical trial director. The PCRM supplied records showing that 15 out of 23 monkeys experimented on in the testing procedures at UC Davis had died, and all had suffered from behavioral and physical injuries.
“We are absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible," Neuralink wrote in a blog post response to the allegations.
Neuralink wrote that all of the work that it did at UC Davis was in accordance with federal laws, and that skilled veterinarians oversaw all medical and surgical operations. Neuralink confirmed that some test subjects were euthanized, following advice from veterinarians at UC Davis, WFLA reported.
In response to Neuralink’s blog post, the PCRM wrote a statement that included further accounts of alleged animal abuse. The statement read that Neuralink used a substance called “BioGlue,” which was not approved for use in the experiments. BioGlue allegedly came into contact with at least two monkeys and caused damage. The statement also alleges that the monkeys suffered months of “significant pain and distress” before being euthanized.
The PCRM statement also mentioned that UC Davis had violated federal animal welfare laws in the past. Seven infant primates died in an experiment due to negligence at UC Davis in 2018. That year, the university was fined by the United States Department of Agriculture for violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act.
In 2020, Neuralink ended its agreement with UC Davis and moved testing to their own in-house facilities. Neuralink added they have never received a citation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for their research process, WFLA reported.