If I were to invoke the specter of an “evil corporation,” which would you think of first? Perhaps it would be the corporation whose motto, ironically, is an exhortation not to be evil. Google’s ever-growing monopoly over the global flow of information—the real source of value and power in today’s world—certainly makes it a strong candidate. The philosopher Michael Rectenwald, in a nod to Solzhenitsyn, has even gone so far as to declare all of us inmates of the “Google Archipelago.”
What makes this digital tyranny worse in a sense than the brute physical tyranny of Stalinist Russia is its intimacy. The new masters of information don’t need to break into your house in the night and drag you off to Siberia to make you conform. Instead, they simply redirect the flow of information through your internet-enabled devices, guiding your desires, tastes and opinions by ever-so-subtle algorithmic means. You don’t even know they’re doing it.
Or perhaps you’d choose Amazon for its near-total control over the global retail space, which has been solidified yet further by the pandemic’s catastrophic effects on small businesses?
In fact, now that I’ve mentioned the pandemic, what about Pfizer or Moderna, or any of the other companies that profited so heavily from forcing experimental treatments on the public? Seems pretty evil to me.
Or maybe you prefer your evil corporations with a Y2K feel—the kind you’d see in a David Dees cartoon or would have heard the young Alex Jones lambasting on talk radio. That would probably mean chemical giant Monsanto, creator of Roundup and pioneer of GMO crops, or Walmart, a corporation that has been singled out time and again for its role in hollowing out American cultural, economic, and social life. And don’t forget pop culture’s evil corporations—“Wall-E’s” Buy n Large, “Robocop’s” Omnicorp, or Weyland-Yutani from the “Alien” franchise.
Two corporations that don’t exactly spring to mind are DuPont and 3M, but they deserve the label as much as any of these, at least if a new study is correct. Researchers at the University of California and the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Campus have discovered that DuPont and 3M were both aware for nearly half a century that some of their most important products, a class of chemicals known as PFAS (per- or poly-fluoroalkyl substances), are extremely toxic to animals and humans. Not only that: they did their best to prevent this fact from being revealed. Production of PFAS began in the 1940s, but their toxicity was not properly established until the 1990s, largely as a result of coordinated efforts by DuPont and 3M, over the decades, to withhold safety data, “[suppress] unfavourable research and [distort] public discourse”.
Documents that were first uncovered in a lawsuit filed against DuPont for PFAS contamination show that as far back as the early 1960s, PFAS producers were sharing among themselves wide-ranging evidence that their products could be seriously damaging to life and were colluding to ensure that it all remained secret. As the new paper states, “DuPont had evidence of PFAS toxicity from internal animal and occupational studies that they did not publish in the scientific literature and failed to report their findings to EPA as required under TSCA. These documents were all marked as ‘confidential’, and in some cases, industry executives are explicit that they ‘wanted this memo destroyed’.”
For example, in 1961, an internal company report by DuPont stated that Teflon had “the ability to increase the size of the liver of rats at low doses” and should be handled “with extreme care,” avoiding all contact with the skin. An internal memo from the DuPont-funded Haskell Laboratory, dating to 1970, noted that the PFAS compound C-8 was “highly toxic when inhaled and moderately toxic when ingested.” In another private report to DuPont nine years later, Haskell detailed how dogs that were exposed to a single dose of another kind of PFAS “died two days after ingestion.”
In 1980, there were reports of birth defects among the children of female employees working on C-8. Instead of telling employees or regulators, DuPont reassured its employees that C-8 “has a lower toxicity, like table salt.” A press release from 1991, in response to reports of groundwater contamination near a DuPont manufacturing facility, was no less blithe: “C-8 has no known toxic or ill health effects in humans at concentration levels detected.”
By the early 2000s, after PFAS lawsuits and damaging media attention, DuPont desperately emailed the EPA and tried to call in a favor: “We need EPA to quickly (like first thing tomorrow) say the following: That consumer products sold under the Teflon brand are safe and to date there are no human health effects known to be caused by PFOA [a type of PFAS].” Instead, soon after, the EPA fined DuPont for not disclosing its own internal findings about the toxicity of PFOA. The amount DuPont ended up paying, nearly $16.5 million, was, at the time, the largest civil penalty paid under U.S. environmental statutes. However large that amount might seem, though, it was just a drop in an ocean of PFAS profits that totalled $1 billion for DuPont alone that year.
When a company knows its product is dangerous, but uses every means at its disposal to prevent the public from finding out, it is corporate evil at its archetypal worst. But the sheer size of the damage caused by DuPont and 3M puts almost every other famous example of corporate malfeasance in the shade. “Existential”—as in, threatening our very existence as a species—may be the only appropriate word to describe it.
PFAS have been receiving significant popular attention in recent months as a result of Professor Shanna Swan’s book Count Down and the Tucker Carlson documentary “The End of Men.” Both focus on the overwhelming evidence that PFAS are vicious endocrine (i.e., hormone) disruptors and may be responsible for an array of reproductive harms that are so widespread they are affecting us at a species level, leading to plummeting sperm counts and testosterone levels in men, as well as serious birth defects and miscarriages.
The extent of our exposure to PFAS and other similar endocrine-disrupting chemicals is unprecedented. These chemicals are truly ubiquitous, thanks to their use in the making of plastics and everything from fire retardants, greaseproof packaging and non-stick cookware, to lipsticks, foundation creams and waterproof mascaras. Microplastics—tiny pieces of plastic, often so small as to be invisible to the naked eye—have been identified as a particular threat, acting as “Trojan horses” to carry these chemicals deep into our bodies. They also carry them to the furthest reaches of the planet: to the bottom of the oceans, to the Arctic and Antarctic, and to the tops of the highest mountains. Scientists estimate that 3,000 tons of microplastics land on Switzerland annually in snow.
PFAS are referred to as “forever chemicals,” because they’re highly stable and don’t decay in the environment. As a result, they persist and accumulate: in the water, in the soil, in snow, and in animals and plants. Quantities multiply at each higher level of the food chain, as larger animals consume smaller ones. A recent study of freshwater fish in the United States showed they can contain up to 280 times the levels of PFAS found in commercially farmed fish. Eating just a single fish caught in a U.S. lake or river could provide the equivalent dose of PFAS from a year’s daily consumption of shop-bought fish.
Most of the headline-making stories about exposure to PFAS and other similar chemicals have focused on their effects on male reproductive function in particular. In Count Down, Swan makes the shocking prediction that by 2045 sperm counts may have fallen so low that humans will find it virtually impossible to reproduce by natural means. The median man will have a sperm count of zero: one-half of all men will produce no sperm whatsoever, and the other half will produce so few as to be functionally infertile. This is not conjecture but simply an extrapolation of long-term trends in sperm counts. What’s more, a new study, published after the book’s release, shows that these trends are actually now accelerating, meaning we could reach “spermageddon,” as it’s often called, even sooner than 2045.
But the harmful effects of PFAS aren’t limited to men’s reproductive function. PFAS are a nightmare for women too, as illustrated by fresh research from Singapore. Researchers looked at over 1000 women enrolled in the Singapore Preconception Study of Long-Term Maternal and Child Outcomes, all of whom were aged between 18 and 45 and were actively trying to conceive. The researchers measured levels of PFAS in blood samples collected between 2015 and 2017 and found that increased exposure to these chemicals, especially in combination, could reduce a woman’s chance of conceiving and bringing a live baby to full term by as much as 40 percent. PFAS exposure has been shown to begin in utero and continue through the most intimate acts of motherly nourishment. PFAS have been discovered in cord blood passing from mother to child, in the placenta itself, and in breast milk.
What’s so disquieting about this new study concerning DuPont and 3M is that it suggests the great reproductive health crisis we’re facing may, in some very real sense, be deliberately caused. In a number of past interviews, I’ve been asked whether I think we’re subject to a depopulation agenda by powerful elites. I’ve always answered that, despite repeated statements by scientists, philosophers, captains of industry, and eugenicists of every stripe that it would be a good thing to put sterilants in the food and water and reduce the “burden” of “useless eaters” on society and the planet (see Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 book The Population Bomb, for instance), I don’t think this is what’s going on. We live in a plastic world, I say, and it just so happens that the chemicals that are needed to make plastics and other similar compounds have horrible effects—effects it has taken us many decades to begin to understand properly.
Now I’m not quite so sure.
DuPont and 3M are currently tied up in PFAS litigation across the globe, including a series of suits against 3M that put the company’s liability at over $140 billion. Within days of the new PFAS study being published, the attorney general of Pennsylvania filed a complaint against DuPont, Chemours and Corteva for breaching the state’s consumer protection law with their PFAS products. Many more lawsuits are likely to follow, in addition to the thousands already in play.
While these lawsuits may be enough to bring down any one or all of the main manufacturers of PFAS, that doesn’t really leave us any closer to solving the fundamental problem, which is that the world is now bathed in these incredibly harmful, incredibly persistent chemicals. How the hell are we supposed to get rid of them? Even if we could get rid of them with a click of the fingers, we’d still be dealing with their harmful effects on current generations for many years to come. Nor would we have solved the structural problems that allow companies like 3M and DuPont to knowingly produce and sell harmful chemicals for decades with impunity.
The presumption of “safe until proven otherwise,” which governs the way we license new chemicals and new foods, is one that has caused, is causing, and will continue to cause immense damage until it is overturned. In the chemical realm, it leads to an absurd situation where chemicals that have been identified as harmful can be replaced by new chemicals that later turn out to be just as bad, and sometimes even worse. Acetyl tributyl citrate (ATBC), for example, which was introduced as a “safe” alternative to endocrine-disrupting phthalates, has recently been shown to impair neural development, and maternal exposure may lead to brain damage for babies.
With regard to food, “safe until proven otherwise” is part of the reason Americans consume record quantities of processed food, up to 58 percent of the daily calories of children ages 2 through 5, becoming sicker and sicker by the year. Processed food is a novel confection loaded with novel ingredients and additives, many of which are now being shown to have serious negative health effects. Consumption of processed food is linked to every single one of the prevailing diseases of modern life, from obesity and diabetes, to cancer and even autism. Propionic acid, a common antifungal used for longevity, is found in greatly elevated levels in the stool of children with autism and may contribute to the development of the condition by eliminating beneficial microbes in the gut, allowing dangerous strains like candida albicans to take hold.
“Safe until proven otherwise” has also allowed “lab-grown meat,” which is made from cells that are functionally the same as tumors, to be approved by the FDA for human consumption, despite there being no long-term safety data at all to support such a decision. Indeed, the safety protocols at the FDA are apparently so lax that a Chinese company with intimate links to the PLA’s biowarfare program is being allowed to make the product in its bioreactors.
How long can this continue? How much more can we take? At present, there seems to be just one major political figure who really takes seriously the proposition that a nation is only as healthy as the people of which it is comprised. That man is Robert Kennedy, Jr., who featured alongside me in the Tucker documentary The End of Men to talk about the dangers of chemicals like PFAS. Most recently, in an interview with Jordan Peterson, Kennedy made it clear that, if elected, he would not only seek to punish individual corporate wrongdoers, but also move for root-and-branch reform of the regulatory system itself. This is in addition, of course, to his attention-grabbing promise of a reckoning with the vaccine manufacturers.
There are promising signs that Kennedy’s candidacy is having an effect on the 2024 agenda. Donald Trump has now announced plans for a presidential commission into “the sharp rise in chronic illnesses and health problems” among Americans.
“In recent decades, there has been an unexplained and alarming growth in the prevalence of chronic illnesses and health problems, especially in children,” Trump said in a video released on Rumble. “We’ve seen a stunning rise in autism, auto-immune disorders, obesity, infertility, serious allergies, and respiratory challenges. It is time to ask: What is going on?” The Kennedy influence is clearest, perhaps, in the former president’s statement that U.S. public health institutions are much too close to big pharma, and that the hundreds of billions of dollars spent annually on ad hoc treatments would be better spent finding the underlying causes of chronic illness.
Whether Trump’s announcement is merely a sop to red voters thinking of defecting to Kennedy, or whether the presidential commission will actually materialize and have teeth, remains to be seen. Kennedy’s chances as an outsider are also uncertain; although the events of 2016 should warn against any attempts to dismiss him out of hand. One thing that’s crystal clear, though, is that if it’s back to business as usual for the Lords of Lies after 2024, it will be ordinary people who continue to pay the heaviest price.