Finding a Chemical Harmless, For a Fee

In a April 2003 pitch to DuPont, The Weinberg Group proposed a strategy to help defuse the growing controversy over the health impacts of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), a compound used to make Teflon. Weinberg's Vice-President of Product Defense, P.Terrence Gaffney, said, "DuPont must shape the debate at all levels." One of his suggested strategies was to facilitate the "publication of papers and articles dispelling the alleged nexus between PFOA and teratogenicity as well as other claimed harm." (Teratogenicity is used to describe the damaging effects of an agent on a fetus.) Gaffney also proposed to "develop 'blue ribbon panels' of thought leaders on issues related to PFOA" and to "coordinate the publishing of white papers on PFOA, junk science and the limits of medical monitoring." DuPont confirmed to reporter Paul D. Thacker that they had hired the Weinberg Group to help with "scientific third party experts," probably on PFOA issues.