FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2017 file photohe brand logo of German car maker Volkswagen, VW, is photographed on a car in Berlin, Germany. The chairman of Volkswagen says that diesel exhaust tests involving monkeys were "totally incomprehensible" and the matter must be "investigated fully and unconditionally." Monday's comments by Hans Dieter Poetsch, reported by the dpa news agency, come in the wake of a report by the New York Times that a research group funded by auto companies exposed monkeys to diesel exhaust from a late-model Volkswagen, while another group was exposed to fumes from an older Ford pickup. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, file)
INTERNATIONAL - Volkswagen’s supervisory board yesterday called for an immediate inquiry into who ordered scientific tests in which monkeys were exposed to toxic diesel fumes, while the German government said such studies were unjustifiable.

“I will do everything possible to ensure that this matter is investigated in detail," Volkswagen supervisory board chairperson Hans Dieter Poetsch said in a statement.

“Whoever is responsible for this must of course be held accountable,” he added.

German carmakers used the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, also known as EUGT, to commission the tests, the New York Times reported on Friday.

The study, conducted in 2014, was designed to defend diesel following revelations that the fuel’s exhaust fumes were carcinogenic, the paper reported.

The details and purpose of the study could not be established and a representative for EUGT, which was dissolved last year, could not be reached for comment.

EUGT received all of its funding from Volkswagen, and fellow German carmakers Daimler and BMW, the New York Times said. It remains unclear whether the carmakers were aware of monkeys being used in the experiments.

Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW on Saturday denounced the study, whose revelation is the latest aftershock from the Volks- wagen emissions-rigging scandal, which continues to rock the auto industry.

On Sunday, the German daily Stuttgarter Zeitung reported that EUGT also sponsored scientific studies testing nitrogen dioxide, a gas found in exhaust fumes, on people.

It said around 25 healthy young people inhaled nitrogen dioxide in varying doses over a period of hours at an institute belonging to Aachen University in Germany.

The German government said yesterday that any auto emissions testing on monkeys or people were unjustifiable.

'Unethical'

“These tests on monkeys or even people are in no ethical way justifiable and raise many critical questions about those behind the tests,” a government spokesperson, Steffen Seibert, told a government news briefing in Berlin.

Stephan Weil, who represents the German state of Lower Saxony, a VW shareholder, on the supervisory board, said the board was pressing the carmaker to urgently provide information about what the aim of the studies was.

“The purpose of such experiments is the decisive factor. If for example, safety and health in the workplace were being tested, as Aachen University has suggested, and ethical standards were adhered to, it is defensible,” Weil told a news conference yesterday.

Aachen University did not comment immediately. 

- Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)