The Weinberg proposal: A scientific consulting firm says that it aids companies in trouble, but critics say that it manufactures uncertainty and undermines science

Author: Paul D. Thacker, Environmental Science & Technology, Published on: 22 February 2006

Tucked away inside the U.S. EPA’s [Environmental Protection Agency's] docket on PFOA, a chemical manufactured by DuPont, is a 5-page letter written in April 2003 by the Weinberg Group, an international scientific consulting firm...The letter is addressed to DuPont’s vice president of special initiatives...and lays out a proposal for how the Weinberg Group can help the company deal with a growing regulatory and legal crisis over PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid)...Critics say that the tactics detailed in the Weinberg proposal are commonly used by chemical and pharmaceutical companies trying to combat lawsuits and regulations against their products...For 23 years, the letter continues, the Weinberg Group “has helped numerous companies manage issues allegedly related to environmental exposures. Beginning with Agent Orange in 1983, we have successfully guided clients through myriad regulatory, litigation and public relations challenges posed by those whose agenda is to grossly over regulate, extract settlements from, or otherwise damage the chemical manufacturing industry.”...Passages from the letter describe how the firm will develop a defense strategy based on science. “[W]e will harness, focus and involve the scientific and intellectual capital of our company with one goal in mind—creating the outcome our client desires.” Another sentence reads, “This would include facilitating the publication of papers and articles dispelling the alleged nexus between PFOA and teratogenicity as well as other claimed harm.”...Most scientists are completely in the dark when it comes to understanding how corporations manipulate science, says David Ozonoff, chair of the department of environmental health at Boston University. [also refers to NVE Pharmaceuticals, American Chemistry Council (lobbying group for chemical manufacturers), Philip Morris]

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Related companies: Boston Scientific DuPont NVE Pharmaceuticals Philip Morris USA (part of Altria) Weinberg Group