Pinkwashing on a Grand Scale

annie sartorBy Annie Sartor, Policy and Campaigns Coordinator

This morning, the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Environment and Economy held yet another hearing to debate how to update our aged chemical safety laws. Today’s hearing focused on the most recent proposed TSCA reform legislation, the Chemicals in Commerce Act (CICA).

This current draft of CICA is more of a gift to the chemical industry than the strong and meaningful chemical safety regulation that we urgently need. In its current form, CICA scales back the EPA’s authority to regulate or require testing of new chemicals, allows companies to mask the identity of a chemical linked to toxic health effects, and could overrule stronger existing or future state chemical laws.

At first glance, updating TSCA would seem easy, this is chemical reform that will lead to improved public health after all! Instead, the struggle to pass strong chemical safety rules has proven so difficult that many individuals and organizations working for several years have failed so far to achieve success on this issue. One of the key reasons strong TSCA reform remains elusive is the strong industry opposition, evident once again earlier today. 

The chemical industry was well represented at today’s hearing. Executives from the American Chemistry Council (ACC) and Procter & Gamble both testified in favor of CICA. Most people have heard of Procter & Gamble, a mega corporation with dozens of subsidiary companies that sell hundreds of personal care and daily use products, from Pantene to Olay to Swiffer and Tide laundry detergent. The American Chemistry Council is less familiar. They are the lobbying arm of the chemical industry, and represent a wide range of chemical manufacturers and producers – worth over $770 billion combined.

The ACC is made up of over 100 chemical manufacturers and companies that heavily rely on weak chemical regulation. ACC member companies include Exxon, Dupont, Dow Chemical, as well as 3M and, lo and behold, Procter & Gamble. The ACC goes so far as to boast on their website, “In 2012, we helped defeat or amend 281 chemical regulation and product ban proposals…”

Here’s the truly shocking part. Many of the products that fall under the ACC or Procter & Gamble brand umbrellas are the very same products that are marketed and sold to consumers as pink ribbon products during Breast Cancer Awareness month each October. That’s right! Products containing chemicals that may be harmful to our health sold in the name of supporting women with breast cancer.

From flame retardants in apparel, to parabens in personal care products, phthalates in plastics, and BPA in cans, each October we are inundated by pink ribbon products that increase our risk of breast cancer. Companies represented by the ACC, including Procter & Gamble among others, sell and profit from pink ribbon cause marketing yet actively oppose and block chemical reform that could stop cancer before it starts.

Yet today we saw these very same corporations that promote and profit from these products standing in front of a Congressional panel, working hard to ensure that these toxic products will remain on store shelves and in our homes and bodies.

This hypocrisy is astounding and we refuse to accept this grand-scale pinkwashing.

As activists who truly stand up for women’s health, Breast Cancer Action asks you to join with us and take action to demand that public health come before corporate profits.  By joining together, we can counter the chemical industry’s aggressive efforts to weaken our chemical safety laws, and ensure that only comprehensive, meaningful chemical reform becomes law.


This entry was posted in BCA Action Alerts, BCA News.