The Weinberg Group and manufacturing uncertainty
Some good stuff on Environmental Science & Technology today.
Check out the piece on the Weinberg Group, a scientific consulting firm that specializes in helping chemical companies battle off lawsuits and criticism of their products, by coordinating marketing and hiring scientists to produce contrary studies. The marketing proposal to DuPont about PFOA (PDF) (a dangerous chemical used to make Teflon) that Paul D. Thacker got his hands on is pretty stunning. Among other things, it says:
[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. … This would include facilitating the publication of papers and articles dispelling the alleged nexus between PFOA and teratogenicity as well as other claimed harm.
Greens like to talk about the Precautionary Principle — preventing the use of chemicals before they’ve been definitively shown to cause harm. But I doubt most people know just how many resources are available to rich corporations to help them keep selling chemicals that have been shown to cause harm. There’s a whole industry devoted to manufacturing uncertainty about issues important to corporations. How about a Cautionary Principle?