Neuralink has admitted to euthanizing eight monkeys following reports of recklessly torturing, maiming and killing animals by subjecting them to “invasive and deadly brain experiments”.
Elon Musk’s brain chip company Neuralink has admitted to killing eight monkeys amidst an ongoing controversy of subjecting animals to ‘extreme suffering’.
It comes after the non-profit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), obtained nearly 600 pages of documents about the testing on 23 rhesus macaque monkeys.
The organization, made up of more than 17,000 doctors, concluded that the “invasive and deadly brain experiments” caused “extreme suffering” to the primates involved and violated the US Animal Welfare Act.
PCRM also filed a complaint with the USDA against the University of California, Davis, which was handed more than $1.4 million from Neuralink to conduct the experiments.
Neuralink’s ‘horrific abuse’ on monkeys
Neuralink is a San Francisco-based company and is working to develop a chip that can be implanted in the brain and connected to a computer.
According to the firm, the brain-computer interface will enable humans to control devices using only their minds.
To test the chips, Neuralink drilled holes into monkeys’ skulls to implant the coin-shaped devices into their heads.
According to PCRM, the researchers destroyed portions of the animals’ brains with unapproved substances as part of the experiments – which spanned from 2017 to 2020 – and failed to provide them with veterinary care.
In a press release, the organization spotlighted the different ways in which the monkeys were tortured.
Researchers “screwed steel posts” to their skulls, the statement said.
Additionally, the primates reportedly suffered seizures, facial trauma, and recurring infections following the implants.
Monkeys involved in the project also manifested a multitude of side effects, including vomiting, anxiety, loss of appetite, and hair loss.
The non-profit noted that one monkey was missing fingers and toes that were ‘possibly from self-mutilation or some other unspecified trauma’ and that the monkey was later killed.
Another monkey suffered from a brain hemorrhage after electrodes were implanted into her brain.
Jeremy Beckham, research advocacy coordinator with PCRM said: “The documents reveal that monkeys had their brains mutilated in shoddy experiments and were left to suffer and die.
“It’s no mystery why Elon Musk and the university want to keep photos and videos of this horrific abuse hidden from the public.”
In response to the allegations, the company revealed that they indeed euthanized eight monkeys due to the brain experiments — and a majority were due to malfunctions and infections associated with its brain implants, in a blog post.
However, the company strongly refuted the claim of abusing the animals or subjecting them to “extreme suffering”.
“At Neuralink, we are absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible,” the neurotechnology company said.
“The use of every animal was extensively planned and considered to balance scientific discovery with the ethical use of animals,” it added.
The company, which is slated to begin human trials later this year, further defended its use of animal research as “all novel medical devices and treatments must be tested in animals before they can be ethically trialed in humans.”
“Neuralink is not unique in this regard,” it said.
It added that “at Neuralink, we are never satisfied with the current standards for animal well being and we will always push ourselves to do more for the animals that are contributing so much to humanity.
“We also look forward to a day where animals are no longer necessary for medical research.”
A UC Davis spokesperson also defended Neuralink’s project. The representative told Fortune that the university “thoroughly reviewed and approved” the research protocols used by Neuralink.
“We strive to provide the best possible care to animals in our charge,” the spokesperson said.
“Animal research is strictly regulated, and UC Davis follows all applicable laws and regulations including those of the US Department of Agriculture.”
The experiments have created quite a stir on social media with many weighing in with their opinions on Elon Musk’s new endeavour.
“Animal cruelty at Is finest. Who is asking for this device anyway,” tweeted one user.
“Scientists torturing animals for research isn’t exactly new but there’s something disturbing about a chip implant causing an animal to self mutilate,” added another.
“Bullcrap, the study of this Neuralink resulted in more than 1/2 of the monkeys suffering & dying painfully. What’s the real purpose of this thing other than making Elon Musk rich,” commented a third.
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