German automakers face heat over tests on monkeys, humans

01 February, 2018, 00:48 | Author: Gladys Mathis
  • Volkswagen alleged to have rigged experiment with monkeys to show safe level of emissions

The research organization received its funding from German carmakers Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW.

It said that in 2014, EUGT had exposed 10 monkeys to fumes - in an air-tight chamber - from several cars, including a diesel VW Beetle.

VW supervisory board Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch also released a statement saying "Whoever is responsible for this must, of course, be held accountable".

The bombshell revelations mark a fresh blow to German carmakers' once-stellar reputation for engineering prowess and no-nonsense efficiency. But the VW cars in the study used software that cheated on emissions.

Volkswagen said on Monday that some of its employees, including some in the legal department, may have been aware of the tests on monkeys at the time, according to Reuters. They were meant to show modern diesel technology had solved the problem of excess emissions. The New York Times reports how the Lovelace breathing experts had trouble finalizing their research, despite pressure from EUGT to do so.

"These tests on monkeys or even people are in no ethical way justifiable and raise many critical questions about those who are behind the tests", government spokesman Steffen Seibert told a regular government news conference in Berlin.

The car-maker-supported research is likely to have been in response to the World Health Organization report and an attempt to challenge evidence it had compiled, but the decision to conduct test on animals and even humans seems extreme and raises potentially damaging moral and ethical dilemmas.

The revelations show the rocky road for Volkswagen as it emerges from its biggest crisis after the 2015 bombshell that the company installed emissions-cheating software in some 11 million diesel vehicles to dupe official tests.

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"We know that the scientific methods used by EUGT were wrong and apologise sincerely for this".

Volkswagen "distances itself clearly from all forms of animal abuse", the company reportedly said in response to the trials involving monkeys. Animal testing is a sensitive subject, best avoided unless required in the most exceptional circumstances.

Naturally, one explanation for this terrifying experiment by German scientists could be that they are, well, German scientists. "We will clarify how the L.R.R.I. study came about and have launched an investigation", the company said in a statement, referring to the Albuquerque lab. "Daimler does neither tolerate nor support unethical treatment of animals".

Germany's major vehicle makers have reacted furiously to a New York Times report that they used monkeys to try to prove diesel emissions were harmless.

"We apologize for the misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals", Wolfsburg, Germany-based VW said in a statement. It had said that despite the concerns about nitrogen oxides, a pollutant found in automotive exhaust, its study found no impact on its test subjects.

Daimler AG said it was "appalled by the nature and extent of the studies".

"These monkeys were forced to inhale risky diesel exhaust for four hours for no reason, and Care2 members firmly believe Volkswagen needs to take responsibility for this sickening experiment", said Rebecca Gerber, Care2's Senior Director of Engagement.

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