By on January 28, 2018

monkey paw

German automakers were faulted with animal cruelty after details emerged that the European Research Group (EUGT) on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector had been gassing monkeys with diesel fumes this week. While this is probably the least egregious example of a German gas chamber in let’s say the last seventy years or so, it doesn’t change the fact that there remain some extremely negative connotations.

People don’t like the idea of testing on animals, especially not cute ones that look like us. Germany may not be taking the full-blame on this faux pas in morality, however. EUGT had commissioned the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute (LRRI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to establish if diesel exhaust fumes were carcinogenic — and that’s where ten monkeys were isolated in airtight chambers, inhaling fumes from a diesel Volkswagen Beetle as they watched cartoons. 

While EUGT received the entirety of its funding from Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, The New York Times article that published the details of the research did not make it clear if the automakers had any idea monkeys were being used in the experiments.

For what it’s worth, all three automakers have condemned the actions of the research group — which was originally established in 2007 by VW, Daimler AG, BMW AG and Robert Bosch GmbH to conduct studies that might defend the use of diesel while the European public was turning against it. “We apologize for the misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals,” Volkswagen said in a statement. “We’re convinced the scientific methods chosen then were wrong. It would have been better to do without such a study in the first place.”

Bosch said it left the group in 2013 and BMW noted it had taken no part in EUGT’s design or research methods. Daimler went one step further by saying it would be launching investigation on the LRRI study in Albuquerque, which took place sometime in 2014. “We believe the animal tests in this study were unnecessary and repulsive,” Daimler said. “We explicitly distance ourselves from the study.”

VW also didn’t mince words and said animal testing contradicted its own ethical standards. It also noted that EUGT was shutdown in June of 2017, apparently without its diesel study ever being published.

It’s worth noting that testing on animals is frequently seen as a necessary evil within the scientific community. In the United States testing on primates is actually relatively common, as their biological and psychological similarities to humans make them good research analogs. However, that doesn’t make any of this less sad.


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29 Comments on “Gas Monkey: German Carmakers Denounce Use of Primates in Diesel Exhaust Study...”

  • avatar

    Why cartoons?

  • avatar

    Let me count the ways I hold everyone involved in contempt.

    1. This study was created in an effort to push back against the sheeple of Europe waking up to the horrors that resulted from one of their early acceptances of top-down ‘environmentalism.’

    2. Don’t we know whether or not diesel exhaust is a carcinogen yet? As taxpayers, we’ve funded research into the utility of treadmills for shrimp to the tune of half a million dollars. Have we really done this while allowing the exhaust of engines used in a plethora of industrial settings to remain a mystery?

    3. The righteous indignation of people who’ve been caught exposing animals to the exhaust they willfully expose humans to is a reflection of a morally and intellectually bankrupt culture. Show me an animal rights activist, and I’ll show you a misanthrope of the first order.

    4. VW’s ethical standards. It is to laugh.

    • 0 avatar

      As usual, you know nothing about the things you keep yapping about.

      Diesel adoption in Europe is not because of environmentalism but because the logistics and transportation industry (the so called “Freight Lobby”) wields disproportional political power when it comes to transportation policy. Taxes for diesel are kept artificially low to protect profits. A side effect is that diesel is also cheaper for private consumers, which leads to diesel being more attractive.

      These are basic market principles. I know, a bit hard for you to understand.

      • 0 avatar

        Yurpean – perhaps you should learn something before yapping. Diesel adoption was encouraged by EU bureaucrats because the lower fuel use of diesels would also lower greenhouse gas emissions and save the world from global warming. I suspect lower consumption diesel may have also been favored due to balance of trade issues as well, since Europe imports almost all of its motor fuels. The trucking industry had nothing to do with it – in many European markets red and green colored diesel fuels were/are sold to differentiate high taxed consumer diesel and low taxed trucking diesel.

    • 0 avatar

      This study was VW’s attempt to prove that their new improved clean diesel was harmless. In part, it was a PR campaign rather than a scientific study. But it turned out that VW cheated again, rigging the VW Beetle to emit lower emissions.

      This was totally unnecessary as it hurt VW’s reputation some more, and put monkeys in harms way for no real reason.

  • avatar

    Anyone who’s been to any major zoo, knows that THE smelliest part of the compound, is Monkey Island.

    And what do those screaming simians DO when they see you and don’t like you? They evacuate their bowels. Into their hands.

    And throw it at…YOU.

    Would I gas someone who threw their feces at me? Happily.

    What if I had a corrupt German car company, offer to gas them FOR me?

    I’d say….Danke Shoen.

  • avatar

    A wink and a grin to German gas chambers on Holocaust Remembrance Day?


  • avatar

    The automakers paid for a study as to whether diesel exhaust causes cancer. Therefore they knew some kind of animals were going to be the subjects. This kind of testing is either ethical or it isn’t. The species used is irrelevant.

    • 0 avatar

      I think there would be little argument from anyone except the most extreme animal rights nuts if they were cancer testing using Mosquitoes or Tapeworms. But of course researchers tend to choose species for testing based on generating valid answers the questions they are asked to address, rather than making people happy that would generally prefer if all humans would just die already and stop screwing up mother nature.

  • avatar

    Ford is using Explorers to test the effects of carbon monoxide on humans.

  • avatar

    This is a stupid way to study whether or not diesel exhaust causes cancer. DNA damage and subsequent mutations don’t necessarily lead to cancer. I don’t know what the typical lifespan of a monkey is but it may take decades for exposure damage to manifest itself.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Not good, it amazes me we still need to do this.

    Why not look at the safety data sheets.

  • avatar

    Is this supposed to bother me?

    • 0 avatar

      You mean the part about VW cheating again? Or the part that this test was more of a PR stunt than a scientific study? Or the part that the monkeys were harmed for no good reason? If none of the above, go watch Planet Of The Apes.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      It is supposed to. Better the monkeys than me, that’s what I say.

      • 0 avatar

        The issue of animal testing will forever be debated, but exposing monkeys to car exhaust in an attempt to show they weren’t harmed by it in a hopeless attempt to whitewash VW’s cheating is beyond stupid and shouldn’t be minimized or defended.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          We’re all exposed to car exhaust.

          In order to test the carcinogenic effects of exhaust on the animals, I’m sure they were breathing highly diluted air, or else they’d be dead too soon.

          How else would you prove that cleaner exhaust is less harmful?

      • 0 avatar

        the problem is.. it IS you too, bud. they lied and cheated in order to get around emission requirements.

    • 0 avatar

      Just pretend it was Ford that did it and I’m sure you’ll feel adequately outraged.

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