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Elon Musk’s Neuralink under FDA criticism over animal welfare practices

TL;DR

  • Tesla boss Elon Musk has been under fire from the FDA due to the practices at his Neuralink startup.
  • Ethical debates and criticism.

Recent reports from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have raised significant concerns regarding animal welfare practices at Neuralink, a brain chip startup founded by Elon Musk. According to documents obtained by Redica, a regulation-focused data analytics platform, FDA inspectors highlighted several deficiencies in the assessment and documentation of animal welfare during their inspection of Neuralink’s laboratory in California.

FDA slams Elon Musk’s Neuralink practices

During the FDA’s visit to Elon Musk’s Neuralink’s Fremont lab last summer, inspectors found notable gaps in documentation related to animal living conditions and the maintenance of scientific equipment. Specifically, Neuralink failed to provide essential materials concerning the calibration and maintenance of its “vital signs monitor” for two years spanning 2021 and 2022.

Additionally, the company was unable to furnish documentation from 2022 regarding water quality tests, as mandated by Laboratory Animal Care Program procedures. Despite these findings, the FDA did not reject Neuralink’s request to proceed with human trials. This decision came shortly after Elon Musk announced that the company had obtained FDA approval to commence human trials.

Neuralink aims to develop implantable brain chips for direct human-machine control and interaction, with Elon Musk recently revealing the successful implantation of a computer chip in the brain of its first human subject. However, concerns surrounding Neuralink’s practices have persisted for years. Since 2018, the company has reportedly euthanized approximately 1,500 animals as part of its efforts to connect brains to computer interfaces.

Ethical debates and criticism

Records from the California Primate Research Center revealed instances of monkeys suffering post-surgery, with some attempting to remove wires from their heads out of fear and discomfort before being euthanized by Neuralink employees. These revelations have sparked intense ethical debates surrounding Neuralink’s research and development activities. Critics argue that the reported mistreatment of animals raises serious ethical questions about Neuralink’s approach to scientific research and innovation.

They contend that the company’s reliance on animal experimentation, coupled with alleged instances of animal suffering, undermines its claims of advancing technology for the betterment of humanity. Additionally, some critics have raised concerns about the transparency and accountability of Neuralink’s practices. They call for increased oversight and regulation to ensure the ethical treatment of animals and the protection of human subjects in clinical trials.

In response to these criticisms, Neuralink has emphasized its commitment to animal welfare and ethical research practices. The company states that it adheres to strict guidelines and regulations governing the care and use of laboratory animals, and it asserts that all research involving animals is conducted with the utmost respect for their well-being.

However, as scrutiny surrounding Neuralink’s operations intensifies, the company faces mounting pressure to address concerns about its treatment of animals and to demonstrate its commitment to ethical research practices moving forward. Public awareness and advocacy efforts are likely to play a crucial role in holding Neuralink accountable for its actions and ensuring that ethical considerations remain at the forefront of its scientific endeavors.

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Owotunse Adebayo

Adebayo loves to keep tab of exciting projects in the blockchain space. He is a seasoned writer who has written tons of articles about cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

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