“A now-settled legal fight between the state of Minnesota and 3M Company over decades of groundwater contamination has drawn a former Michigan State University professor into the spotlight.
Attorneys representing the state of Minnesota claim John P. Giesy, a toxic chemical expert who taught at MSU for more than two decades, was part of 3M’s alleged campaign to ‘distort’ and ‘suppress’ scientific research on the toxicity of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which 3M invented and marketed for decades…
Giesy was not named as a party in the lawsuit against 3M by the Minnesota Attorney General’s office, but was characterized in legal filings as part of 3M’s attempt to ‘command the science’ surrounding the public health impact of PFAS.
The lawsuit, which was settled in February when 3M agreed to pay Minnesota $850 million, alleged that 3M ‘provided millions of dollars in grants to Professor Giesy, who – while presenting himself publicly as an independent expert – privately characterized himself as part of the 3M team.’
The lawsuit also cites emails in which Giesy, as an editor of academic journals, allegedly told 3M that his goal was to keep “bad papers out of the literature” because “in litigation situations” such articles can be ‘a large obstacle to refute.’
Giesy said he performed consulting services for 3M, on an hourly basis, through a company called Entrix. He said he was paid about $275 an hour for his work, but added that he did not receive all of that…
Giesy, who left MSU in 2006 and now works at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, denied that he attempted to suppress scientific research critical of 3M.
‘Since the state of Minnesota has settled the case and it thus never went to trial, they have vacated their claims in the statement of allegations,’ he wrote in an email to MLive in response to questions for this story. ‘They were never forced to prove the allegations so at this point they are their interpretations of statements taken out of context and amount to hearsay.’
Ben Velzen, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, said the claims in the state’s lawsuit ‘speak for themselves’ and ‘we stand by them.’
Giesy said the email in which he discussed keeping ‘bad papers’ out of the literature was taken out of context. He characterized the statement as an indication that he worked to scrutinize academic papers that used faulty data or research methods.
‘In court it is often assumed that published papers must be correct, but it is not true,’ Giesy wrote. ‘I can give you lots of examples of where incorrect conclusions drawn from erroneous data have been used to support various contentions in legal proceedings. I have seen many papers that were just wrong used in count [sic] to try to make a case for or against everything from PCBs to glyphosate. Once a paper is published, even if it is withdrawn it is still out there and attorneys try to use them, even when it is pointed out that they have been withdrawn’…
Michigan State University spokesperson Emily Guerrant said the university’s Research Integrity Office is aware of the allegations raised in the Minnesota lawsuit, but said MSU has not received any complaints of misconduct against Giesy.”
Read the full article by Brian McVicar