Gas Monkey: German Carmakers Denounce Use of Primates in Diesel Exhaust Study

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
gas monkey german carmakers denounce use of primates in diesel exhaust study

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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9 of 29 comments
  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Jan 29, 2018

    Not good, it amazes me we still need to do this. Why not look at the safety data sheets.

    • MBella MBella on Jan 29, 2018

      How do you think info gets on the data sheets, magic? Testing is required. It's like saying don't kill animals, buy your meat at the supermarket.

  • EBFlex EBFlex on Jan 29, 2018

    Is this supposed to bother me?

    • See 5 previous
    • Abapper Abapper on Jan 29, 2018

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

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion:
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?