VW Calls Diesel Exhaust Testing “Repulsive,” Suspends Corporate Lobbyist
After news broke last week that Volkswagen had partially funded a study that exposed both humans and monkeys to diesel exhaust, the German automaker is working to distance itself from the study. Reuters reports that it has suspended its head lobbyist and that VW CEO Matthias Mueller has strongly condemned the methods used.
“Over the weekend we had to learn once more that there is still a long way ahead of us to regain lost trust,” Mueller said Monday. “The methods used by EUGT in the United States were wrong, they were unethical and repulsive. I am sorry that Volkswagen was involved in the matter as one of the sponsors of EUGT.”
Bernd Osterloh, VW’s head of labor, went a step further, saying, “The boundaries of decent and moral conduct were clearly crossed. It appears as if some at VW have lost their ethical and moral bearings.”
Volkswagen has said the supervisory board’s executive committee will meet next week to begin an internal investigation, as well as discuss ways to ensure such unethical studies don’t get funded in the future.
The original story broke last week when the New York Times published an article detailing how, in 2014, an organization called the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector had used monkeys to study the health effects of breathing diesel fumes. According to the report, funding for the study came from German automakers Volkswagen, Daimler, and BMW. German newspaper Stuttgarter-Zeitung later reported that EUGT also conducted tests on humans.
The study was supposed to show that modern diesel engines are significantly cleaner than they used to be and that a modern diesel’s emissions no longer pose serious health concerns. To show that difference, monkeys were divided into groups and exposed to either modern diesel fumes or fumes from an older diesel vehicle. There’s no evidence that human subjects were ever used for those tests, but they were exposed to nitrogen dioxide for several hours to see what effect specific pollutants may have. Even though the EUGT shut down last year, the methods it used quickly drew the attention of human and animal rights groups.
Volkswagen isn’t the only automaker to condemn the study, either. Daimler released a statement saying, “Daimler does neither tolerate nor support unethical treatment of animals. The animal experiments in the study are superfluous and repulsive.” BMW, meanwhile, said it “does not carry out any animal experiments,” and that “[t]he BMW Group did not participate in the mentioned study and distances itself from this study.”