Dupont: Influence

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Lobbying Activities

DuPont is part of a powerful industry lobby that has stubbornly delayed or obstructed progressive legislation. Jack Doyle describes the company's strategy as follows: "DuPont typically looks for what it can live with, generally embracing the broad concepts that make the headlines while doggedly fighting over details and technical issues that the public rarely hears about. Those details, however, usually determine how effective new laws and regulations will be." According to Doyle, the company has exerted substantial influence over key pieces of environmental protection legislation in the US, such as the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Oil Spill Prevention Act. [1]

The company has been named among a number of companies attempting to weaken US laws designed to hold polluters responsible. Of particular focus is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund. According to the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), DuPont and others "have lobbied Congress to roll back the polluter pays principle and weaken cleanup standards at the nation's worst waste sites." PIRG also accuse the company and its industry associates of fighting "efforts to expand the public's right to know about toxic chemicals used in the workplace, consumer products and communities." [2]

Buying Influence

As well as influencing government through lobbyists, DuPont also buys influence with cold hard cash. In 1999 DuPont was listed by PIRG as one of the 'Dirty Five' – the five biggest polluters in the US – that together spent $6,523,677 over the period 1991-1998 in lobbying Congress, the House of Representatives and Superfund-related committees in order to prevent stricter legislation. [3]

Another way that DuPont attempts to influence government officials and to build close relationships with them is by laying on expenses paid trips for them. This is also a favoured tactic of some of the industry lobby groups that DuPont funds such as CropLife America, Grocery Manufacturers America and the American Chemistry Council. [4]

Lobby Groups

DuPont is a member of quite an enormous number of lobby groups. Many of these organisations donate huge amounts of money to governments in the hopes of weakening or eliminating existing environmental laws and passing legislation to further their goals of profit at any cost. [5] DuPont was one of the original members of the Business Council for Sustainable Development (now the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, of which DuPont is still a member), the lobby group responsible for wrecking the 1992 UNCED conference in Rio. [6]

Other lobby groups of which the company is a member of include:

  • International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) – This organisation claims to be the world's premier business lobby group. The ICC has lobbied tirelessly for trade deregulation, striving for a world free of annoying barriers to trade such as human rights and environmental legislation. [7]
  • World Economic Forum bills itself as "the foremost global partnership of business, political, intellectual and other leaders of society." It has 968 member organisations, including the largest and most powerful multinational corporations in the world. [8]
  • CropLife America (formerly the American Crop Protection Association) - This group claims to represent the developers, manufacturers, formulators and distributors of plant science solutions for agriculture and pest management in the United States. According to the organisation's website, its member companies produce, sell and distribute virtually all the crop protection and biotechnology products used by American farmers. [9] The group has a biotechnology committee which acts as the legislative, regulatory and public affairs voice for the plant biotechnology industry. [10] The committee's list of member companies reads like a Who's Who of agri-biotech baddies and can be found at: More information on this organisation's sinister activities can be found at:
  • American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) - This organisation, founded in the early 1970s, boasts of helping to pass hundreds of state laws every year -from tax cuts to loosened environmental regulations. According to ALEC, its mission is to promote free markets, small government, states' rights, and privatisation. [11]
  • Business Council on National Issues (Canada) - Founded in 1976 by the CEOs of US-based Imperial Oil and Noranda, the BNCI is Canada's version of the European and US business roundtables. [17] Over the past two decades, the BCNI's relationship with successive Canadian governments has become increasingly intimate. The lobby group worked strenuously for the passage of the 1988 Canadian-US Free Trade Agreement, [18] and organised a costly campaign to secure the election of the current neoliberal government. The BCNI also strongly supported the MAI and is a member of the OECD's official business advisory council, the BIAC. [19]
  • The Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association (US) - SOCMA claims to be the leading trade association representing the interests of more than 320 speciality-batch and custom chemical companies that encompass every segment of the industry—from small speciality producers to large multinational corporations. The organisation boasts that it influences proposed and pending regulations on Capitol Hill and inside regulatory agencies. [20]
  • Council on Competitiveness (US) – A lobby of industry and trade associations aimed at prioritisation of US competitiveness and trade in US and global policy. [21]
  • EuropaBio (European Association of Bioindustries)
  • BIO (US-based Biotechnology Industry Association)

An excellent source of information on the sinister lobbying activities of some of the US lobby groups mentioned above is the Environmental Working Group's 'Dirty Money' site:

'Independent' Scientific Panels

In addition to straightforward industry lobby groups DuPont also funds supposedly independent scientific panels of spurious credentials. One example is the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH). Though billed to the public as an 'independent' and 'blue ribbon' scientific panel, the ACSH is far from a neutral organization. In addition to its funding from DuPont, the ACSH has also received funding from other chemical and vinyl manufacturers such as Dow Chemical, Exxon and Monsanto and routinely parrots the corporate line. When the ACSH was set up in 1978, it went straight to the Manufacturing Chemists Association (now the American Chemistry Council) for funding, promising them that ACSH's viewpoints are "more similar to those of business than dissimilar." [28]

Influencing Research and Education

"When DuPont says what the science means, that is what the science is." - DuPont CEO Mr. Edgar Woolard speaking at a trial in which DuPont was fined $115 million for a "clear pattern of concealment and misrepresentation." [29]

Due to widespread cuts in public funding, universities are becoming increasingly dependant on industry funding to finance their research. This is extremely worrying, given the numerous examples of industry conducting misleading research and misrepresenting results to serve its own agenda. The way that DuPont has reacted to concern over the safety of Benlate, Formaldehyde and CFCs (to name but a few examples) suggests that the company is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to keep its products on the market, regardless of their detrimental effects on both human health and the environment (see Corporate Crimes).

Collaboration between industry and academia is certainly nothing new. For example, DuPont worked with University researchers to discover Nylon. In those early years of the chemical revolution, when relatively few profitable synthetic compounds were on the market, DuPont focussed its energies on discovering new ones and helped to finance academic researchers who were doing the same. Today, with so many profitable chemicals on the market, there is less incentive for the company to invest in research for innovative products that may turn out to be far less profitable. As Nicholas Ashford from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology argues, instead of researching safer and cheaper alternatives, the academic community focuses on saving the market for chemicals in use today, because that is where the money is. [30]

Common techniques used by industry to manipulate a study to make a dangerous chemical appear to be safe are to reduce the sample size, the dosage and the length of the study. Since public interest science has become under-funded, the net result of industry's influence is that it is extremely difficult to get an alternative view from industry-backed science. Ashford argues that "the number of really independent, good academics is such a small number that industry is able to overwhelm the science, and industry's way of looking at the science is very unbalanced." [31]

Funding 'Independent' Research Groups

DuPont funds a number of supposedly 'independent' research groups. Scientists from these groups testify in government hearings and in courtrooms, giving an appearance of detachment that the company would never enjoy.

One of the scientists that DuPont funds is David B. Baker who is based at Heidelburg College in Tiffin, Ohio. Baker, who is one of the most prolific researchers on herbicides, has acknowledged that funding can sometimes affect the way he presents his data. Whilst Baker's early papers (when he relied solely on government funding) tended to emphasise the seriousness of the problem of herbicide contamination of surface water, his more recent papers have very much played down the problem. As Richard Wiles of the Environmental Working Group puts it, "the tone of his data, the interpretation of his data, has changed as his funding source has changed." [32]

Science institutes that have received funding from DuPont include:

  • The Formaldehyde Institute - In 1978, DuPont was one of the companies that set up the Formaldehyde Institute to defend formaldehyde in the face of damning evidence that the product caused cancer and respiratory illness. The Institute was eventually forced to dissolve in 1993 because its liability insurance company had to pay out so much in claims that it raised the Institute's premiums enormously. [33]

Bullying Tactics

In addition to buying its way into scientific credibility, DuPont has also resorted to some rather nasty bullying tactics in its attempts to influence research on its products. For example, the University of Florida virtually abandoned its research into DuPont's notorious fungicide Benlate after a ruthless campaign by the company. The university's decision prompted one scientist to retire in disgust (see Corporate Crimes). [37]

Links with Government

Not surprisingly DuPont has strong links with government in the US. In September 2002, DuPont CEO and Chairman, Charles Holliday Jr. was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council. [38] Another of the company's directors, Richard H. Brown, is a member of the President's Advisory Committee on Trade and Policy Negotiations and of the President's National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. [39] Also among DuPont's directors is William K Reilly, formerly administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). [40] Another of DuPont's directors, Charles M Vest is a member of the President's Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology. [41]

The company also has links with government in other parts of the world. Another of DuPont's board members is Masahisa Naitoh, who has held a number of senior policy positions in the Japanese government's Ministry of Trade and Industry. [42]

At the UN level, another DuPont director, Göran Lindahl is Under Secretary-General and Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General. [43]

The Revolving Door

The 'revolving door' between top levels of government and industry is well documented. According to the Center For Public Integrity, in the US virtually all the major chemical manufacturers employ former toxics regulators. The impact of this exchange is "immeasurable but significant" argues Rick Hind from Greenpeace. "When a former assistant administrator comes back as an industry lobbyist, he has a psychological edge. It affects everything – how agency officials respect his schedule, his opinions, how they give him the benefit of the doubt." [44]

Public Relations

DuPont management has played a pioneering role in the development of so-called corporate environmentalism. Like other large polluters and political heavyweights, DuPont has yet to prove that it is truly an ecologically responsible corporation, rather than an adept public relations campaigner that knows how to capture the popular vote while continuing business as usual. [45]

DuPont has spent billions of pounds on advertising campaigns designed to make people forget that they manufacture chemicals. Although the company used to promise "Better chemicals for better living", in recent years it has changed its slogan to "The miracles of science." [46] Through its involvement with bodies such as the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (see Lobby Groups), and through public relations campaigns, DuPont has sought to establish its reputation as a socially and environmentally responsible manufacturer. In recent years the company has been becoming increasingly sophisticated in its use of language, using emotive 'green'-sounding phrases to describe its activities. One example is the company's recent pledge to build "a growing partnership with nature" as it becomes more involved in genetic engineering and food production. [47] All the effort appears to have largely paid off - at least in the US - where the company was ranked as the most admired US chemical company in the 2002 Fortune survey of America's most admired companies. [48]

According to Carmelo Ruiz from PR Watch, DuPont was represented by the notorious PR company Burson-Marsteller when it was involved in nuclear research. See our Burson-Marsteller profile for more information on this company's activities. [49] Other PR companies used by DuPont include McCann Erickson who designed the company's global "to do list for the planet" campaign in 1999. The company's other clients include Exxon, General Motors and Nestlé. [50]

According to Mark Thomas, Gerald Lander was the PR man responsible for DuPont's infamous onco-Mouse - this is a mouse that has been genetically engineered to develop cancer and was the first animal ever to be patented (see Corporate Crimes). [51]

DuPont has been criticised for its 'greenwashing' in schools. For example it produced a poster for schools titled "Less is More -- Learning About Source Reduction," but neglected to mention its own dumping problem. [52] The company has also taken to sponsoring museum exhibitions, such as a recent exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington in the US. [53]

DuPont is a member of the Responsible Care programme, launched by the Chemical Manufacturer Association in the 1980s in response to increasing pressure from the public for stricter regulation of the chemical industry. The Responsible Care program has been heavily criticised by the US Public Interest Research Groups who claim that, "Responsible Care does not provide the public or workers with any reliable way to verify an individual company's compliance with the program. Nor does it require that the company set measurable public goals to allow the public to gauge success." [54]

DuPont 'Philanthropy'

Like many other companies, DuPont donates to various charitable causes to promote a socially and environmentally responsible image of itself. In 1997 Dupont donated land in the state of Maryland to the Conservation Fund, which regularly works with large corporations. When a reporter asked whether the Fund was 'greenwashing' DuPont's dirty deeds elsewhere by celebrating the company at a news conference and party at the National Press Club, Conservation Fund spokesperson Jack Lynn snapped, "I can't believe how naive you are. That is the kind of question we used to get back in the 1970s." [55]

In an attempt to further greenwash its image, DuPont is a member of the Wildlife Habitat Council, which describes itself as a non-profit, non-lobbying group of corporations, conservation organisations and individuals dedicated to protecting and enhancing wildlife habitat. Other corporate members of the council include Monsanto, Novartis and Dow. As part of one of the council's programs, DuPont manages various wildlife sites. One of the sites, a wetland area, has twice won a Wildlife Habitat Council 'Habitat of the Year' award. The site also serves as an environmental education centre for students. [56]

As part of the company's PR effort it also funds supposedly 'independent' scientists, research institutes and scientific panels as well a host of industry lobby groups (see Lobbying Activities and Influencing Research and Education).

Advertising Agencies

Advertising agencies in the UK that DuPont have used include:

137 Beverly Road
Tel (01482) 325 883
Fax (01482) 214 879

The company lists ICI among its other clients. [57]

Sovereign House
Cambridge Road
MK42 0LH
Tel (01234) 268999
Fax (10234) 268444

Other clients include labour abusers Fyffes Group Plc. [58]


  1. ^ Cited in A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,, viewed 2/11/02.
  2. ^ PIRG (1999) Super Polluters, cited in A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,, viewed 2/11/02.
  3. ^ Ibid.
  4. ^ Fagin, D., Lavelle, M. & The Center For Public Integrity (1999) Toxic Deception: How the chemical industry manipulates science, bends the law and endangers your health, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine.
  5. ^ EWG (2001) The Dirty PACs,, viewed 2/11/02.
  6. ^ Heerings, H. & Zeldenrust, I. The Elusive Saviours: Transnational Corporations and Sustainable Development, CONTRAST Advies, available at:, viewed 22/10/02; A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,, viewed 2/11/02.
  7. ^ A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,, viewed 2/11/02
  8. ^ Weissman, R. (2000) Melbourne Mobilization, Multinational Monitor, 21: 10 ,, viewed 22/10/02.
  9. ^CropLife America (2001) CropLife America launched,, viewed 30/10/02
  10. ^ CropLife America Biotechnology Committee, , viewed 30/10/02.
  11. ^ Transnational Observatory (2002) Prison labour, , viewed 5/11/02.
  12. ^ EWG (2001) PACs of Members of the Chlorine Chemistry Council,$listpacs?GROUP=G006, viewed 30/10/02.
  13. ^Cited in Chatterjee, P. (1996) Industry Addiction to Estrogen Mimickers & Endocrine Disrupters - Who is Sealing Our Future, CAQ Quarterly, Fall 1996, available at:, viewed 28/10/02.
  14. ^ CEO (1998) Maigalomania! Citizens and the Environment Sacrificed to Corporate Investment Agenda,, viewed 22/10/02
  15. ^ USCIB web site,
  16. ^ CEO (1998) Maigalomania! Citizens and the Environment Sacrificed to Corporate Investment Agenda,, viewed 22/10/02
  17. ^ Ibid.
  18. ^ The FTA was the basis for the NAFTA agreement
  19. ^ CEO (1998) Maigalomania! Citizens and the Environment Sacrificed to Corporate Investment Agenda,, viewed 22/10/02
  20. ^ SOCMA Member Companies,, viewed 30/10/02; About SOCMA, , viewed 30/10/02
  21. ^ A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,, viewed 2/11/02.
  22. ^ Ibid.
  23. ^ EWG (2001) The American Chemistry Council,, viewed 30/10/02
  24. ^Coalition for Vehicle Choice (1997) National Members,, viewed 30/10/02
  25. ^EWG (2001) PACs of Partial Members of the National Association of Manufacturers,$listpacs?GROUP=G011, viewed 30/10/02
  26. ^ EWG (2001) Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment (RISE),, viewed 30/10/02
  27. ^ Associate Members,">, viewed 30/10/02
  28. ^ Minutes from the MCA board of directors meeting, March 16, 1978, cited in EWG (2001) The Vinyl Institute,">, viewed 30/10/02
  29. ^ Fagin, D., Lavelle, M. & The Center For Public Integrity (1999) Toxic Deception: How the chemical industry manipulates science, bends the law and endangers your health, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine.
  30. ^ Ibid.
  31. ^ Ibid.
  32. ^ Ibid.
  33. ^ Ibid.
  34. ^ Clear (2000) Clear Profile: The Harvard Center for Risk Analysis,, viewed 30/10/02
  35. ^ A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,, viewed 2/11/02.
  36. ^ Chatterjee, P. (1996) Industry Addiction to Estrogen Mimickers & Endocrine Disrupters - Who is Sealing Our Future, CAQ Quarterly, Fall 1996, available at:">, viewed 28/10/02
  37. ^ Fagin, D., Lavelle, M. & The Center For Public Integrity (1999) Toxic Deception: How the chemical industry manipulates science, bends the law and endangers your health, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine.
  38. ^ DuPont (2002) Charles O. Holliday: Chairman and CEO,, viewed 2/11/02
  39. ^ Richard H. (Dick) Brown: Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of EDS
  40. ^ DuPont (2002) William K. Reilly: President and CEO, Aqua International Partners LP,">, viewed 2/11/02.
  41. ^ DuPont (2002) Charles M. Vest: President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,">, viewed 2/11/02.
  42. ^ DuPont (2002) Masahisa Naitoh: Vice Chairman, ITOCHU Corporation,">, viewed 2/11/02.
  43. ^ DuPont (2002) Göran Lindahl: Under Secretary-General and Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary-General and Chairman, Alliance for Global Sustainability,">, viewed 2/11/02.
  44. ^ Fagin, D., Lavelle, M. & The Center For Public Integrity (1999) Toxic Deception: How the chemical industry manipulates science, bends the law and endangers your health, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine.
  45. ^ A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,">, viewed 2/11/02.
  46. ^ Fagin, D., Lavelle, M. & The Center For Public Integrity (1999) Toxic Deception: How the chemical industry manipulates science, bends the law and endangers your health, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine; DuPont (2002) DuPont Overview: Company at a Glance,">, viewed 2/11/02
  47. ^ A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,">, viewed 2/11/02.
  48. ^ Fortune (2002) America’s most admired companies: 2002 all-stars,">, viewed 2/11/02.
  49. ^ Cited in A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,">, viewed 2/11/02.
  50. ^ A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,">, viewed 2/11/02.
  51. ^ The Mark Thomas Comedy Product: Show 3, 4/2/98,">, viewed 28/10/02
  52. ^ Mokhiber, R. (1996) Names in the News, Multinational Monitor, 17:(5)">, viewed 22/10/02.
  53. ^ DuPont (2002) Celebratory Activities,">, viewed 6/11/02.
  54. ^ PIRG (1998) Trust Us, Don't Track Us, cited in A SEED Europe (1999) DuPont, Corporate Genomics: Leading Corporate Engines of Genetic Engineering, Nov. 1999, available at:">, viewed 1/11/02.
  55. ^Corporate Crime Reporter, 22/9/97, p. 7,">, viewed 22/10/02.
  56. ^ A SEED (1999) Corporate Genomics: DuPont,">, viewed 2/11/02
  57. ^ Brock, B. (2002) Advertisers Annual – The Blue Book, Hollis Publishing Ltd.
  58. ^ Ibid.