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Elon Musk’s Neuralink defends monkey tests after ‘maiming and killing’ allegations

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is defending its record of fatal brain chip testing on monkeys after an activist group accused the company of subjecting the animals to “extreme suffering” during years of brutal experiments. In a blog post on Tuesday, Neuralink did not deny killing monkeys during the experiments but argued that “all novel medical devices and treatments must be tested in animals before they can be ethically trialed in humans.” “At Neuralink, we are absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible,” the company said. Neuralink’s response comes one week after an activist group opposed to animal testing, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, filed a complaint against the company over what it claimed were violations of federal laws intended to reduce suffering during animal experiments during tests at the University of California, Davis from 2017 to 2020. In one example, the group alleged that a monkey was found missing some of its fingers and toes “possibly from self-mutilation or some other unspecified trauma.” The monkey was later killed during a “terminal procedure,” the group said in a copy of the complaint shared with The Post. In its response, Neuralink wrote that monkeys sometimes lose fingers and toes through “conflicts” and “aggressive interactions” with each other — but denied that any such injuries occurred to Neuralink’s monkeys while they were housed at UC Davis. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which has reportedly received funding from controversial animal rights group PETA, also said that other monkeys suffered severe side effects including bloody skin infections and brain hemorrhages after having Neuralink devices implanted in their heads. The group based its allegations on documents obtained through public records requests. “They were, frankly, maiming and killing the animals,” the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine research advocacy director Jeremy Beckham told The Post. Neuralink shot back that its “terminal procedures” — the process of conducting a surgery on an animal and then euthanizing it — were conducted on monkeys that “may not have proper quality of life due to a pre-existing condition.” “The use of every animal was extensively planned and considered to balance scientific discovery with the ethical use of animals,” the company said. “As part of this work, two animals were euthanized at planned end dates to gather important histological data, and six animals were euthanized at the medical advice of the veterinary staff at UC Davis.” The company also said it conducted some experiments on cadavers, which are the dead bodies of animals that have already been euthanized prior to an experiment. “Performing initial surgeries on cadavers and terminal procedures ensures that an animal does not potentially suffer post-operatively in the event the test procedure has an unexpected result,” Neuralink said. The Elon Musk-owned company also denied breaking any federal rules around animal experiments. “All animal work done at UC Davis was approved by their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) as mandated by Federal law, and all medical and post-surgical support, including endpoint decisions were overseen by their dedicated and skilled veterinary staff,” Neuralink said. “While the facilities and care at UC Davis did and continue to meet federally mandated standards, we absolutely wanted to improve upon these standards as we transitioned animals to our in-house facilities.” UC Davis has also denied wrongdoing. Neuralink said that its animals now live in a Neuralink-run facility that is “staffed with caretakers who are passionate about animal well being” and that the company has “has never received a citation from the [US Department of Agriculture] inspections of our facilities and animal care program.”

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