VW Used Monkeys To Test Diesel Emissions

"The Süddeutscher and Stuttgarter Zeitung both reported on Monday that a research group funded by the auto industry giants tested the effects of gas nitrogen dioxide - a component of vehicle exhaust - on "[25] healthy young persons".

The EUGT is now closed, and Bosch left the group in 2013.

"They like to watch cartoons", said Jake McDonald, the scientist at Lovelace who ran the experiments, as part of a deposition taken a year ago as part of a suit by Volkswagen diesel owners.

According to the Stuttgarter Zeitung, the experiments were carried out at an institute of the University Clinic Aachen and involved the group having to breath in varying different concentrations of nitric oxide after which they were physically examined for any side-effects.

According to German media, a research group created by Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler deliberately exposed human test subjects to exhaust fumes for hours at a time, attempting to prove they were not carcinogenic. The new scandal has sent shockwaves through Germany and the country's environment minister described the experiments as "abominable". "That a whole branch of industry has apparently tried to discard scientific facts with such brazen and dubious methods makes the entire thing even more horrific", Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, tells The Guardian. She said she was "appalled" that scientists had "made themselves available as willing supporters of such despicable experiments".

Volkswagen's dieselgate scandal took a freakish turn last week when the New York Times reported a lab in Albuquerque, New Mexico locked ten monkeys in a chamber and had them watch cartoons while exhaust fumes from a Beetle were piped into the compartment.

Reports of the tests, following a New York Times account of similar experiments on monkeys in the US, triggered political recriminations and had automakers scrambling to distance themselves.

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VW is no stranger to controversy following the 2015 dieselgate scandal where the carmaker admitted fitting software created to cheat emissions testing to 11 million vehicles. At least one vehicle used in the project was a VW Beetle that had been among those equipped with one of the company's rigged diesel engines.

Monkeys were caged watching television cartoons for hours at a time, while inhaling fumes from a Volkswagen Beetle.

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.

The test result stands in contrast to long-term medical studies drawing a link between nitrogen-dioxide and breathing problems, particularly among the young, the elderly and asthmatics. VW said on Twitter that the Group "explicitly distances itself from all forms of animal cruelty".

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.

A spokesman for VW Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said the supervisory board's executive committee will meet next week to discuss the internal investigations and ensure that such incidents will not be repeated. We condemn the experiments in the strongest terms.

The study was carried out in 2014 by the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, but unsurprisingly it was never concluded or published.

  • Darren Santiago