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BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen admit using caged monkeys in diesel emission tests
01 February 2018, 12:48 | Ruby West
German Carmakers Criticized for Emissions Research on Monkeys
Volkswagen's supervisory board called for an immediate inquiry into who commissioned tests in which monkeys were exposed to toxic diesel fumes, while the German government said such studies were unjustifiable.
The study reportedly compared exhaust fumes and particulates with a then-new diesel-powered VW Beetle with those of an old Ford ute. The revelation came days after the New York Times reported that the research group had carried out similar tests on monkeys in the U.S.in 2014.
The secret experiments, which took place in both the United States and Germany, were part of a "clean diesel" research initiative funded by Volkswagen, the world's largest automaker, with BMW and Daimler.
"We're convinced the scientific methods chosen then were wrong", the vehicle maker said. "And it comes on the tail of the emissions scandal, which was ethically problematic in the first place".
"On behalf of the Supervisory Board I distance myself with total determination of this type of practice", said Pötsch from the headquarters of Volkswagen in Wolfsburg and considered that these experiments "are not in any way understandable". Bosch said it left the group in 2013.
"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 said, according to the Reuters news agency.
"We are shocked by the extent of these studies and the way they were carried out", Daimler said, in a statement quoted by the Sueddeutsche newspaper.
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.
"The Süddeutscher and 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 " healthy young persons".
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.
"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". That, they say, was done by a research advisory board made up of scientists.
Daimler, owner of the Mercedes-Benz auto brand, said it was "shocked by the extent of those studies, and the way there were carried out".
VW and the other automakers are now facing a public backlash for the LRRI tests as cruelty against animals.
BMW, while distancing itself from the studies, said the assessment of the trial at Aachen University before an independent body with appropriate expertise - such as the ethics commission - should be taken into account.
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.
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