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VW Responds To Accusations About Using Monkeys During Diesel Test

VW Responds To Accusations About Using Monkeys During Diesel Test

Nitrogen oxides are toxic chemicals found in diesel exhaust fumes, and the carmakers reportedly wanted to counter a World Health Organisation decision to classify them as carcinogenic.

"The minister has no understanding for such tests, which damage animals and humans and that do not serve science but merely PR aims", Mr Strater said.

The experiment took place "sometime between 2012 and 2015".

The story broke after a report in The New York Times detailed a previously unknown 2014 experiment commissioned by the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) - a now-disbanded research institution funded by the three carmakers.

Thomas Kraus, director of Institute of University Clinic Aachen, has confirmed existence of study and explained to newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung, that investigation was not related to manipulation of toxic gases that ruined image of Volkswagen in United States.

"We believe that the scientific methods used to conduct the study were wrong and that it would have been better not to undertake it all", Volkswagen said in a statement Monday, according to CNN Money.

Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, said what was known about the tests so far was "vile".

The tests, which were undertaken at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque in 2014, involved as many as 10 monkeys and had them sitting in airtight containers as they breathed exhaust fumes from a diesel-powered Volkswagen Beetle while they watched cartoons for entertainment.

Hans Dieter Poetsch chairman of the board of directors of Volkswagen said the tests were “incomprehensible” in every way. AP
Hans Dieter Poetsch chairman of the board of directors of Volkswagen said the tests were “incomprehensible” in every way. AP

In an email to Automotive News, Daimler said, "We are appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation". It's also a new low since the 2015 exposure of VW's cheating on diesel emissions tests that saw 11 million vehicles equipped with software to evade regulators.

Volkswagen, the world's biggest carmaker, is under fire globally from politicians and environmentalists following revelations it commissioned experiments in which monkeys and humans breathed in auto fumes for hours at a time.

Marketing professor Alan Middleton at York University's Schulich School of Business agrees with that assessment, saying the scheme was likely one of the automaker's attempts to promote diesel as a cleaner fuel alternative.

What do we know about the tests?

But the Stuttgart-based Zeitung revealed that research conducted at the University of Aachen also involved human volunteers.

Volkswagen quickly issued an apology for the study involving monkeys, while leading corporate figures personally condemned the animal experiment. VW supervisory board Hans Dieter Pötsch said that "whoever is responsible for this will of course take the consequences".

In the meantime, several non-governmental organizations (NGO) including the German Animal Protection League and German Environmental Aid decried the "pointless experiments" and "fake research" of the EUGT. The New York Times reports how the Lovelace breathing experts had trouble finalizing their research, despite pressure from EUGT to do so.

BMW said it "does not carry out any animal experiments", adding that: "The BMW Group in no way influenced the design or methodology of studies carried out on behalf of the EUGT".

Over the weekend, Volkswagen said it "explicitly distances itself from all forms of animal cruelty" as "animal testing contradicts our own ethical standards".

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