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Created 7-29-08

Congressional Probe Widens to
Examine "Science for Sale" Consulting Group

 

Implications for Glynn County
 

 

In the May-June GEC Newsletter, the Congressional investigation of the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology and implications for Altama Elementary School were discussed.  In this article, the Congressional investigation of the consulting firm hired by Hercules and EPA activities to thwart school testing are discussed.

   Reps. John D. Dingell, Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Bart Stupak, Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, announced that their ongoing investigation has broadened to include the scientific and regulatory firm the Weinberg Group. In a letter to the Washington, DC based consultancy, Dingell and Stupak ask for records pertaining to work the group has done on the chemical Bisphenol A, as well as other chemicals.  “The tactics apparently employed by the Weinberg Group raise serious questions about whether science is for sale at these consulting groups, and the effect this faulty science might have on the public health,” Dingell said.  “From previous correspondence, it appears that the Weinberg Group prides itself on using its ‘scientific capital’ to create an outcome desired by corporate clients,” Stupak added. “It is not at all clear whether such outcomes are supported by the real scientific evidence.” 

   Shortly after the GEC and others in Glynn County called for the testing of Altama Elementary School in July 2007, Hercules hired the Weinberg Group to assess the toxicity of toxaphene.  EPA documents indicate the hiring of the Weinberg Group is part of a larger plan to delay testing of Altama Elementary School for at least three years.
 

 
 

“The tactics apparently employed by the Weinberg Group raise serious questions about whether science is for sale at these consulting groups, and the effect this faulty science might have on the public health,” Dingell said. 

  ... ...

John Dingell and Bart Stupak – the committee chair and its investigations chair – demanded that the industry come clean about the degree to which it has been able to corrupt science at the Environmental Protection Agency.   The EPA and Hercules are deeply intertwined with the scientific journal, consulting groups, and individuals currently the subject of Congressional investigations.   The questionable practices of those under investigation appear to be planned in response to calls for testing of Altama Elementary School in July 2007.

 
         
 

After the EPA was formally requested to test Altama Elementary School, a series of meetings took place between the EPA and Hercules.  The EPA noted that the public remains concerned about Altama Elementary School and future sampling is a possibility, but the EPA wants to first address toxicity.  Hercules hired the Weinberg Group to perform toxicological studies on toxaphene, which could take 3-4 years.

Congressional investigators noted that among other strategies, the Weinberg Group proposes developing “blue-ribbon panels” to create awareness of safety regarding chemicals.  Next, construct a study to establish not only that a chemical is safe, but also coordinate the publishing of white papers.  This appears to be the plan proposed by the consulting firm for Glynn County toxaphene contaminated sites like the school. 

The Weinberg Group created a Scientific Advisory Panel to comment on the toxaphene toxicity testing plan.  Included on this panel was Dr. James Klaunig, a person of interest to the Congressional investigators for his past activities.  The comments of the panel were incorporated into the testing plan.

 The toxaphene toxicity testing plan designed by the Weinberg Group is a two part study.  The first study is intended to be used to modify the second study, depending upon the data developed.  The intent appears to be the design of a second study that will produce the desired results.  Not surprising is that the Simon and Manning article from the journal under a Congressional Investigation, Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, is used in the study plan to limit the number of toxaphene chemical components that will be tested for toxicity.  Also noteworthy is that the few toxaphene chemicals to be tested are only found in very small amounts in Glynn County. 

The Weinberg Group came to their attention in January 2008 when Dingell and Stupak launched an investigation into BPA, writing seven prominent manufacturers of baby food, as well as the Food and Drug Administration. Bisphenol A, which some scientists say could be linked with diabetes, cancer and obesity, may be used in material that lines the cans of infant formula and may leach into the baby food itself, exposing infants to Bisphenol A. Of particular interest to the Members are case studies in which the DC based consultancy touts its successes in certain scientific and regulatory matters.
 

 

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