Volkswagen Apologizes for Testing of Diesel Fumes on Monkeys

German carmakers have promised to swiftly investigate experiments that exposed people and monkeys to diesel fumes, disclosures that threaten to open a new phase in an emissions controversy that has dogged the industry since 2015. It focused on health effects in the workplace, such as for welders and mechanics.

According to a New York Times report, a company referred to by its German initials EUGT was formed by the car-maker trio in 2007 and commissioned tests on live mammals to prove the cleanliness of diesel engines.

The report graphically describes the experiment, in which 10 rabbits packed tightly together in an airtight enclosure were exposed to diesel fumes emanating from a VW Beetle, which was in fact one of the models the company had rigged to cheat pollution 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.

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Weil said he could not imagine that other board members were aware of the practices and announced that the state of Lower Saxony would lodge a "corresponding urgent request" with Volkswagen's management in the course of the day.

The revelations sent shockwaves through the German establishment. The Beetle was allegedly equipped with cheating software to reduce toxic emissions in the test. The New York Times recently broke the news that Volkswagen not only rigged an emissions test but also forced monkeys to inhale the risky diesel fumes.

The tests were meant to show modern diesel technology had solved the problem of excess emissions. By not disclosing the emissions control defeat devices, VW was making a sham of the research - the scientists conducting the studies were reportedly unaware of the VW devices.

The experiments were carried out by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT), and funded by Volkswagen, Daimler & BMW, (SZ) and reported on Sunday.

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"These tests with monkeys and even human beings are not, from an ethical standpoint, in any way justifiable", he announced on Monday in Berlin.

According to the reports, the ethics committee at Aachen University Hospital permitted the tests under occupational doctor Prof Thomas Kraus. BMW, Daimler and VW have condemned the emissions experiments involving monkeys.

While two of the three vehicle makers have distanced themselves from the study, the results of which have never been published, Volkswagen has apologised for its part in the test. "Animal testing is completely inconsistent with our corporate standards". They have apologized for the inappropriate scientific methods done by the EUGT.

"We strongly condemn the tests", the company said, insisting it was not involved in choosing testing methods that were "against Daimler's values and ethical principles". Though the company said it didn't have any influence on the studies' design, it has launched a "comprehensive investigation into the matter". "We apologise for the misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals".

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Mel Evans, clean air campaigner at Greenpeace, said: "These bewilderingly abhorrent lab tests on monkeys and possibly humans, show yet again that Volkswagen is wholly untrustworthy and will do anything to promote dirty diesel".

  • Kelly Blake