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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