"These tests […] cannot be justified ethically in any way”, stated Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert
The German government has publicly condemned experiments perpetrated by various local carmakers, which included exposing humans and monkeys to diesel exhaust fumes in the name of science. The health impact research was carried out by EUGT- European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector-, body funded by Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW.
Social Democrat politician Stephan Weil called them "absurd and abhorrent […] Lobbying can be no excuse whatsoever for such testing”
It was known that the EUGT research was designed in order to fight against a 2012 decision by the WHO - World Health Organization- in order to classify diesel exhaust as carcinogen. Various scientist were accused of exposing 10 monkeys to fumes in air tight champers where they would be forced to inhale the exhaust of several cars, including a diesel VW Beetle, in New Mexico, United States.
Germany's Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks called these measures "abominable" and expressed disgust knowing that scientists had agreed to conduct such heinous acts
A local radio station also reported that 19 men and 6 women, according to the BBC, were also part of the experiment; the volunteers also inhaled diesel fumes. The concentration of chemicals found within said exhausts included nitrogen oxides, as stated by the test itself which was published back in 2016.
These tests were carried out during various months not only in the US, but also in Aachen, Germany. Carmakers were arguing in favor of modern technology and wished to prove that new expertise had cut pollution from diesel engines to safe levels.
Such tests could not be justified, the government said, demanding details
It must also be taken into account that in 2015 VW admitted to having “cheat” devices in the United States in order to make engines appear as if they were polluting less, which lead to a worldwide scandal.
The manufacturer of Mercedes- Benz cars stated, “we are appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation […] we condemn the experiments in the strongest terms”. Meanwhile, representatives of Volkswagen tweeted on Saturday that “it explicitly distances itself clearly from all forms of animal abuse”.
VW’s supervisory board publicly stated that it will conduct an investigation due to the fact that the experiment is “utterly incomprehensible”.
Latin American Post | Susana Cicchetto