Volkswagen’s chief lobbyist said on Tuesday that the auto giant would end animal experiments for its products. The statement came in the wake of a major scandal that revealed the effects of diesel fumes were tested on both monkeys and humans in a study funded by German automakers.
“We want to completely eliminate animal testing in the future, so something like this doesn’t happen again,” Thomas Steg told the Bild daily.
The explosive report published by the New York Times last week exposed a 2014 study carried out by the now-defunct European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT). It was followed on Monday by reports in the Süddeutsche Zeitung and Stuttgarter Zeitungthat those tests had also been carried out on humans.
Funded by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW, and carried out at Aachen University Hospital, doctors studied the health effects of “short-term nitrogen dioxide inhalation by healthy people.”
Following the report, Aachen University Hospital released a statement saying that the experiment was “extremely sensitive,” and was carried out to optimize safety for truck drivers, mechanics and welders.
VW promises inquiry
More invasive experiments commissioned by the EUGT on behalf of the auto firms had 10 monkeys sitting in airtight chambers inhaling the exhaust of a VW Beetle.
The study was reportedly financed by the car industry to defend diesel following revelations that the fumes were carcinogenic.
Volkswagen has promised an inquiry into the scandal.
“I will do everything possible to ensure that this matter is investigated in detail,” said Volkswagen supervisory board Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch.
Germany’s Green party has promised to take up this matter with the administration of Chancellor Angela Merkel in the Bundestag.
“We call on the federal government to clearly state how much they knew about the unsavory practices of the auto industry and how much public money financed them,” said Green parliamentary leader Britta Hasselmann.
This is the second time in recent years that diesel cars have been at the center of a major scandal. In 2015, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published findings that Volkswagen had programmed software into its diesel cars so that they would pass emissions tests despite not meeting environmental regulations.
Other companies implicated in the ‘dieselgate’ scandal included Daimler, Volvo, Jeep, Hyundai and Fiat.
es/kms (dpa, Reuters)