It isn’t just Tesla that the U.S. Department of Transportation could be investigating relating to Elon Musk…
Believe it or not, it was reported on Thursday that the agency could also be looking into Neuralink, Elon Musk’s budding brain-implant startup, over allegations of potentially “illegal movement of hazardous pathogens.”
The probe was disclosed by a Department of Transportation spokesperson after an animal-welfare advocacy group called Physicians Committee of Responsible Medicine (PCRM) lobbied Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg regarding records it found about the company.
The PCRM said it “obtained emails and other documents that suggest unsafe packaging and movement of implants removed from the brains of monkeys”, according to Reuters, who was first to report on the probe.
The PCRM claims that the implants may have carried infectious diseases in violation of federal law, the report says. The Department of Transportation said it was taking the allegations “very seriously”.
Antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus and herpes B virus were both claimed to be potentially transported without proper containment measures. Incidents of improper transportation took place in 2019, the report says, when Neuralink was still reliant on the University of California, Davis to help with its experiments.
Neuralink’s actions “may pose a serious and ongoing public health risk”, representatives from PCRM wrote in a letter. It continued: “The company’s documented track record of sloppy, unsafe laboratory practices compel DOT to investigate and levy appropriate fines.”
A DOT spokesperson commented to Reuters: “We are conducting an investigation to ensure that Neuralink is in full compliance with federal regulations and keeping their workers and the public safe from potentially dangerous pathogens.”
Neuralink did not respond to Reuters’ request for comments. As the report notes, Neuralink is already facing scrutiny from Federal regulators regarding “animal welfare violations ” and staff that was reportedly forced to work quickly, causing “needless suffering and deaths” of animals.