SICK: Renowned academic brags about suppressing information on the deadly effects of PFAS in 3M chemicals

Professor John P. Giesy may be considered one of the top academic authorities on toxic chemicals, but it turns out that position of power has been abused. Despite being credited as the first scientist to sound the alarm on the presence of toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals in the environment, new evidence has revealed Giesy as nothing more than a shill for big business. The highly regarded academic has even bragged about duping the public on chemical company 3M’s dime.

Though Giesy has been showered with praise for persuading 3M to stop producing PFAS, it turns out he was actually doing their dirty work, as part of a global campaign to quash real science on the dangers of the hazardous chemicals. By controlling the conversation, 3M was able to protect their own interests — with the help of a widely respected, yet unscrupulous Professor Giesy.

Giesy is a leading environmental toxicologist at Canada’s University of Saskatchewan, and has spent most of his career at public universities. Or has he? As a memorandam from Minnesota state lawyers contends, “Despite spending most of his career as a professor at public universities, Professor Giesy has a net worth of approximately $20 million.”

“This massive wealth results at least in part from his long-term involvement with 3M for the purpose of suppressing independent scientific research,” they allege.

3M and PFAS contamination around the globe

3M has actively avoided taking on blame for polluting the environment in a small Minnesota town, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t responsible.

In Oakdale, MN, dozens of children and teens are being diagnosed with, and killed by, cancer. Cancer that is likely caused by massive amounts of PFAS contamination, thanks to a nearby 3M facility. At least 21 cases of cancer have been confirmed in just 15 years in the town.

In Williamtown, Australia, the toll of PFAS contamination has reached up to 50 cases of cancer — all within 5 kilometers of each other. As the Sydney Morning Herald contends, “the two communities, on either side of the world, have both been heavily polluted with toxic per- and poly-fluoroalkyl [PFAS] chemicals, historically manufactured by chemical giant 3M.”

In Australia, 90 communities are being investigated for PFAS contamination, as well. Indeed, it seems contamination from PFAS is everywhere. And now, the lawsuit from Minnesota has opened a massive can of worms for 3M.

Documents show 3M used Giesy for massive disinformation campaign

“3M engaged in a widespread campaign to conceal the risks posed by PFAS from the public — a campaign that continues to this day,” Minnesota prosecutors claim. After 3M reached a $850 million legal settlement with Minnesota Attorney-General Lori Swanson, damning internal documents were unearthed. These documents point to Professor Giesy as one of many “tools” employed by the company to bury the science on PFAS. 3M had a laundry list of tactics to, as they themselves called it, “command the science” on their toxic compounds.

Giesy may be denying his involvement, but emails and other internal documents have a different story to tell. Professor Giesy’s consulting company received payments from 3M between the years of 1998 and 2009. In an email to a 3M lab manager, Giesy explained that his role with the company was to keep  “bad papers out of the literature” because in “litigation situations they can be a large obstacle to refute.”

Giesy was an editor for a number of academic journals — and source say that at least half the papers on PFAS during any given year went to him for review. “Some journals … for conflict-of-interest issues will not allow an industry to review a paper about one of their products. That is where I came in,” Giesy wrote in a separate email.

“In time sheets, I always listed these reviews as literature searches so that there was no paper trail to 3M,” he continued.

There are a host of other allegations against Professor Giesy, thanks to the internal documents uncovered during the Minnesota suit. These startling revelations once again show why truly independent science is so important — especially for public and environmental health.

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