Elon Musk’s medical device firm, Neuralink, is under federal investigation for possible animal-welfare violations.
The firm’s internal staff complained that its animal testing is being rushed, causing needless suffering and deaths, according to reviewed documents and sources familiar with the investigation and company operations.
Neuralink Corp is developing a brain implant with hopes to help paralyzed people walk again and cure several other neurological ailments. The federal probe, which has not been previously reported, was opened in recent months by the US Department of Agriculture’s Inspector General at the behest of a federal prosecutor, according to two sources.
One of the sources said, the probe focuses on violations of the Animal Welfare Act, which governs how researchers need to treat and test some animals.
The investigation arrives at a time of growing employee opposition about the firm’s animal testing, including complaints that pressure from CEO Musk to accelerate development has resulted in failed experiments, according to a Reuters review of dozens of Neuralink documents and interviews with over 20 current and former employees.
Such botched tests have had to be repeated, increasing the number of animals being tested and killed, Neuralink’s employees said. The firm’s documents include previously unreported audio recordings, text messages, emails, presentations, and reports.