Volkswagen Denies Involvement in Animal Cruelty in Monkey Experiment

A group of German scientists funded by German carmakers exposed humans to toxic fumes in experiments, German newspapers Stuttgarter Zeitung and Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Monday.

According to the New York Times, the research received all its funding from Volkswagen, Daimler, and the BMW Group - German automakers.

"We apologize for the misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals", says Volkswagen.

Germany's Robert Bosch warned that revelations about animal experiments in the auto industry may hamper efforts to restore trust in diesel, a key technology which helped the auto supplier post higher profits previous year.

"I'll do everything so that these events will be fully investigated", Volkswagen Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch told Bloomberg in an emailed statement.

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Germany's vehicle industry has come under renewed fire after the New York Times reported last week that German carmakers used an organisation called European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) to commission tests exposing monkeys to toxic diesel fumes.

In one of the tests monkeys were forced to inhale exhaust fumes from a Volkswagen Beetle auto and an older pickup truck for several hours in an attempt to prove the Beetle's clean emission standards. It has since emerged that the model used in the test was among those with cheat software to reduce emissions in test situations. 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. A number of European cities, including Paris, are considering outright bans on the technology, despite efforts to say diesels can meet the latest emissions standards with new control systems.

Daimler said it was "appalled by the extent of the EUGT studies and their implementation".

All three manufacturing groups are distancing themselves from the study, although the head of the EUGT, Michael Spallek, said that it was Volkswagen's lawyers that suggested "using primates instead of humans" for the test. Jürgen Resch, the group's CEO, says that interest in the diesel exhaust studies has been sparked by investigations in the United States into Volkswagen's diesel cheating schemes, which has "apparently set the EUGT in a panic".

The explosive report published by the New York Times last week exposed a 2014 study carried out by the now-defunct European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT).

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It reported they were given varying doses over a period of hours at an institute belonging to Aachen University in 2012, with a summary of the report showing no ill effects.

The human study, carried out by Aachen University, involved studying the effects of exposing 25 subjects, mostly students, to low levels of nitrogen dioxide like those that could be found in the environment - from a 40-litre bottle, not a diesel engine. The university had followed typical procedures, such as approval by an ethics commission as well as written consent from each participant, it said.

Germany's federal government said on Monday the tests were "in no way ethically justifiable".

VW has been under heavy scrutiny in recent years over its role in a decade-long diesel emissions cheating scandal, in which the company manipulated its diesel cars to hide how much pollution they were emitting.

The scandal has also not left German chancellor Angela Merkel indifferent, who, through her spokesman, Steffano-Ibert, has demanded clarification from companies.

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"They raise many critical questions for those were behind these tests - and these questions must urgently be answered".


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