Dubious monkey, human experiments deal another blow to German automotive sector

01 February, 2018, 00:50 | Author: Manuel Hopkins
  • Volkswagen alleged to have rigged experiment with monkeys to show safe level of emissions

Members of Volkswagen's supervisory board are calling for an inquiry into tests in which monkeys were exposed to toxic diesel fumes.

The experiments would have been carried out in 2015 and a Volkswagen manager, now detained in the U.S. for the emissions data manipulation scandal, would have personally brought a VW Beatle to the laboratory.

Revelations of diesel exhaust tests on humans touched off a political firestorm in Germany, as several politicians rushed to condemn the tests.

"Everything must be done now to establish under whose orders and when these tests were carried out", said Mr Weill, who is on the supervisory board.

According to the New York Times, ten monkeys were locked in airtight chambers and left to watch cartoons as they breathed in diesel fumes from a VW Beetle in 2014. But Rubin stressed that all animal work conducted by Lovelace is done under the supervision of an attending veterinarian and only after an institutional Animal Care and Use Committee evaluates study objectives and testing methods to verify compliance with animal regulations. The Volkswagen scandal led to public scrutiny of diesel emissions as regulators discovered that other companies' vehicles also had higher emissions on the road than during testing, though not necessarily through illegal rigging. However, it's not that easy taking into consideration the new accusations that have emerged about VAG's diesel-related misconduct. "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".

The carmakers named have distanced themselves from the dubious research methods and Volkswagen has apologised.

Amal Johal, director of consumer action and group litigation specialists Your Lawyers, said: "How does a global corporation think it can continue to get away with another act of fraud?"

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The now defunct European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, known as EUGT - whose budget consisted entirely of funds from the three automakers - didn't do research of its own, but rather commissioned academics to produce reports that might paint diesel in a favourable light, the Times report says.

Funded by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, and carried out at Aachen University Hospital, doctors studied the health effects of "short-term nitrogen dioxide inhalation by healthy people".

The tests featured 25 volunteers at a clinic used by Aachen University, which said it had followed typical procedures, such as approval by an independent ethics commission as well as written consent from each participant. German media outlet Bild said it had seen an internal email suggesting that some senior managers were aware of the design of the monkey study.

Such tests could not be justified, the government said, demanding details.

"The level of deceit perpetuated by the Volkswagen group is beyond comprehension and amounts to one of the largest corporate scandals of all time".

"These experiments with monkeys, and even humans, are ethically unjustifiable", a statement by Merkel's official spokesperson Steffen Seibert read.



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