German vehicle firms funded trials on humans

Feb 02, 2018, 12:11
German vehicle firms funded trials on humans

"The Süddeutscher and Stuttgarter Zeitung both reported on Monday that a research group funded by the auto industry giants tested the effects of gas nitrogen dioxide - a component of vehicle exhaust - on "[25] healthy young persons". Co-founding member Robert Bosch GmbH left the group in 2013.

Hans Dieter Poetsch, chairman of the board of directors of Volkswagen, said the tests were â€incomprehensible” in every way. The unusual study was conducted by the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute and commissioned by the European Research Group on Environment and Health funded not only by VW, but also by BMW and Daimler.

It reported they were given varying doses over a period of hours at an institute belonging to Aachen University in 2012, with a summary of the report showing no ill effects.

The German government has condemned some of that country's biggest carmakers, over media reports that say humans and monkeys were used in experiments to test the dangers of exhaust fumes.

According to a research scientist, the levels of nitrogen oxide were lower than is acceptable in industrial work places, but the research followed a conclusion by the World Health Organisation that classified diesel emissions as carcinogenic.

Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, said what was known about the tests so far was "vile".

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She added that "the fact that an entire industry has apparently tried to hide brazen and dubious methods of scientific research makes it even more monstrous", insisting that the auto industry and the scientific community must explain their role.

The EUGT was shut down previous year but the Times said it was part of a "prolonged, well-financed effort to produce academic research that they [German automakers] hoped would influence political debate and preserve tax privileges for diesel fuel".

"We are appalled by the extent of the studies and their implementation", Daimler said yesterday in a statement emailed to Automotive News in the U.S., adding it didn't have any influence over the study and promised an investigation.

One German researcher involved, Prof Ulrich Keil of the University of Münster, said on Monday he felt "shitty in hindsight" at having worked on studies the EUGT used to make the case for "clean" diesel technology.

The experiment was conducted in 2014 and created to defend diesel following allegations the fuel's exhaust fumes cause cancer.

"We apologize for the misconduct and the lack of judgment of individuals", Wolfsburg, Germany-based VW said in a statement. We condemn the experiments in the strongest terms.

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German auto manufacturers have been testing the impact of diesel fumes on monkeys by getting them to inhale them in lab conditions.

The 10 monkeys were placed in sealed chambers in front of TVs showing them cartoons, as Volkswagen Beetles drove on a treadmill, and their diesel fumes were pumped into the breathing spaces.

In the meantime, several non-governmental organizations (NGO) including the German Animal Protection League and German Environmental Aid decried the "pointless experiments" and "fake research" of the EUGT.

"If the people who were responsible at the time are still on board, then personnel consequences must be considered", he said.

The study has received condemnation from lawyers and animal activists alike. BMW denied it was involved in the studies.

Volkswagen said the study was never discussed in any management board meetings, after Bild earlier reported that an internal e-mail showed that at least some senior managers were informed about the design of the research.

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