Elon Musk’s start-up medical device company, Neuralink, has come under the scanner of the US government over alleged animal-welfare violations, reports Reuters news agency, citing internal documents and sources close to the investigation.
More than 20 current and former staff have told Reuters that its animal testing is being rushed, causing needless suffering and deaths.
The probe by the US Department of Agriculture recently began its investigation after a request from the federal prosecutor, Reuters said quoting two sources with knowledge of the probe.
Neuralink is developing a brain implant that it claims will help paralysed people walk again and cure other neurological ailments.
It is being claimed that since 2018, roughly 1,500 animals, including more than 280 sheep, pigs and monkeys, have been killed due to experiments.
Reuters, which has quoted sources with direct knowledge of the company’s animal-testing operations, said that the figure was a rough estimate as the company does not keep a record of how many animals were tested and killed.
Moreover, the employees claimed that CEO Musk has been pressurising them to accelerate animal testing, resulting in botched experiments.
Elon Musk expects Neuralink’s chip to begin human trials in six months
“We are simply not moving fast enough. It is driving me nuts,” he reportedly wrote to staffers earlier this year.
They say that the tests had to be repeated, increasing the number of animals being tested and killed, the employees told Reuters.
Animals are usually killed when experiments are completed, as it helps them to examine post-mortem for research purposes.
However, the current and former staff of Neuralink alleged that the number of animal deaths is higher than it needs to be.
This is not the first time that Neuralink has faced allegations of animal abuse.
Earlier this year, an animal-rights group accused the company’s researchers of subjecting monkeys to “extreme suffering” while testing brain implants.
(With inputs from agencies)