Neuralink, the Elon Musk company being investigated for animal cruelty, is now also under investigation by the Department of Transportation for shipping contaminated equipment without proper packaging to prevent humans from coming into contact with all sorts of awful stuff, like a potentially lethal herpes variant.
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The US Department of Transportation is investigating allegations that Elon Musk's brain-computer interface company, Neuralink, violated federal transportation regulations when it shipped contaminated implants removed from the brains of deceased research monkeys infected with multiple types of dangerous pathogens. The alleged violations could have put humans at risk of exposure to hazardous germs, including drug-resistant bacteria and a potentially life-threatening herpes virus.
Reuters was the first to report the department's investigation, which was sparked by allegations brought Thursday by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a medical group that advocates for animal welfare in medical research. The Department of Transportation confirmed to Ars on Friday that it has opened a standard investigation of Neuralink in response to PCRM's allegations.
In a letter addressed to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and William Schoonover, associate administrator of the department's Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration, the PCRM laid out its evidence for possible violations of hazardous material transportation regulations based on a trove of documents and emails obtained through public record requests. The advocacy group says the evidence shows Neuralink's contaminated hardware was not properly packaged to prevent exposure to humans and that Neuralink employees who transported the material had failed to undergo legally required training on how to safely transport such material.
This isn't the first time investigators have had to take a look at Neuralink.