German carmakers funded studies that made young people huff emissions

German carmakers funded studies that made young people huff emissions

German carmakers funded studies that made young people huff emissions

The German automaker came under fresh scrutiny after the Stuttgarter Zeitung reported on Sunday that the European Research Group on Environment and Health, better known under its German initials EUGT, also carried out nitrogen dioxide tests on people.

"The boundaries of decent and moral conduct were clearly crossed", said Bernd Osterloh, VW's labour boss, adding he will leave no doubt about workers' opposition to such tests at next week's meeting.

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

Behind the tests was the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT) - a since defunct organisation funded by German auto giants Daimler, BMW and Volkswagen Group.

In the animal study, New York Times found that a group of monkeys was exposed to diesel exhaust from a late-model Volkswagen, while another group was exposed to fumes from an older Ford pickup. "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.

The EUGT was shut down a year ago but the Times said it was part of a "prolonged, well-financed effort to produce academic research that they [German automakers] hoped would influence political debate and preserve tax privileges for diesel fuel".

The New York Times reported earlier about a 2014 trial in a US laboratory in which 10 monkeys inhaled diesel emissions from a VW Beetle.

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The research was commissioned by the European Scientific Study Group for the Environment, Health and Transport Sector, which officially ceased operations past year amid controversy over its work.

Reports of the tests followed a New York Times account of similar experiments on monkeys in the United States, triggering political recriminations and prompting automakers to distance themselves from the work. The company says it "explicitly distances itself from all forms of animal cruelty" and that "animal testing contradicts our own ethical standards".

Volkswagen quickly issued an apology for the study involving monkeys, while leading corporate figures personally condemned the animal experiment. 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. The test, which was confirmed by Aachen University's research hospital, the site of the test, was allegedly to do with workplace safety and not related to the automotive industry.

VW is no stranger to controversy over the fuel - with the so-called dieselgate scandal gripping the carmaker and wider industry in 2015 when it admitted fitting software created to cheat emissions testing to 11 million vehicles.

The 10 monkeys were placed in sealed chambers in front of TVs showing them cartoons, as Volkswagen Beetles drove on a treadmill, and their diesel fumes were pumped into the breathing spaces. "We want to absolutely rule out testing on animals for the future so that this doesn't happen again", Bild quoted Steg as saying.

In a statement, BMW said it "did not participate in the mentioned studies".

VW's supervisory board representative and chief controller, Hans Dieter Pötsch, said on Monday he was struggling to understand how the tests had been allowed to be carried out, calling them "in no way understandable".

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