When people think of animal testing, they typically view it as a major problem in the medical and beauty industries. However, automobile makers are just as likely to engage in this unethical behavior. The German manufacturer Volkswagen is one of the companies that have most recently faced censure for its use of animal testing. They are now hoping to lose the negative PR by making a transition to end animal testing for their products.
The fact that Volkswagen uses animal testing came to light in the middle of a larger scandal involving emissions regulations cheating. It was revealed that Volkswagen was illegally manipulating the software on vehicles to make it look like they were expelling lower amounts of diesel emissions than they truly were. The company did this as part of a large campaign to make diesel a more acceptable fuel alternative.
Animal testing was related to this scandal since the company turned out to be using animal testing in an attempt to show that diesel was safe. They financed research for studies such as one that involved putting macaque monkeys in an airtight room full of diesel exhaust. According to Herbert Diess, the chief executive at Volkswagen, these studies were done in the United States and did not violate local animal cruelty laws.
However, in Diess’ statement, he went on to explain that he does feel the tests were unethical even if they were not illegal. Therefore, Volkswagen has decided to rule out most animal testing. This announcement has been celebrated by animal rights advocates such as PETA who are calling on all car manufacturer’s to follow Volkswagen’s lead. However, some feel that the statement does not go far enough. Volkswagen says they will still do animal testing if there is any pressing concern that can be solved with animal tests, so they are essentially not ruling out the option of animal testing altogether.
Though the move away from animal testing has generated some goodwill for Volkswagen, the company is still facing a lot of fallout from the emissions cheating scandal. Chief executives have been charged with conspiracy, and they are also facing a major lawsuit by shareholders. In addition to the over $25 billion in fines the company already has to pay, they may owe $10 billion more if they lose the lawsuit.