A doctors’ group has filed a complaint against UC Davis with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alleging that an Elon Musk-funded primate research program was a violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine alleges in its complaint that the UC Davis California National Primate Research Center — which received more than $1.4 million from Musk’s company Neuralink to conduct experiments — failed to provide dying monkeys with sufficient veterinary care.
The primates had been experimented on using an unapproved substance called “Bioglue” that destroyed portions of monkeys’ brains, and failed to provide for the psychological well-being of the monkeys in the experiment, according to a statement released by the group.
The group is suing in Yolo County Superior Court to force the university to release videos and photographs of the monkeys used in the experiments.
“UC Davis may have handed over its publicly-funded facilities to a billionaire, but that doesn’t mean it can evade transparency requirements and violate federal animal welfare laws,” said committee advocacy coordinator Jeremy Beckham in a statement. “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 lawsuit, UC Davis released a statement acknowledging that there was a collaboration with Neuralink which ended in 2020.
A UC Davis spokesman said in a statement that research protocols were thoroughly reviewed and approved by the campus’ Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, and that UC Davis staff provided veterinary care, including round-the clock monitoring of the animals.
In a statement, Neuralink said animals at Neuralink are respected and honored by our team. The company has also released a video.
Without proper context, information from medical records and study data can be misleading, the statement said.
It is important to note that these accusations come from people who oppose any use of animals in research. Currently, 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.
At Neuralink, we are absolutely committed to working with animals in the most humane and ethical way possible.