Each year in October, corporations such as General Mills and Johnson & Johnson adorn their products in pink to raise awareness and money for breast cancer research; however, many of these companies’ products contain cancer-linked chemicals and toxins. As Brittany Shoot reports, “Food manufacturing giants use packaging full of cancer-linked chemicals, yet partner with breast cancer organizations to funnel money toward research.” This “pink washing” may distract consumers from how these companies actual contribute to the problem.
Shoot identifies five corporate hypocrisies involving carcinogenic materials, toxic ingredients and “rampant anti-woman attitudes and practices.” For example, since 2011, the Breast Cancer Fund has campaigned Progresso to phase out the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in its soup cans. BPA is a known endocrine disruptor, which has been linked to cancer, diabetes, obesity, and attention and developmental disorders. Progresso persists in using an epoxy resin containing BPA to line its cans, even as it marketed pink ribbon can-labels in October. As Shoot summarizes: “Those lids you should save so parent company General Mills can donate to cancer research? They’re coated in cancer-linked chemicals.”
Food manufacturers aren’t the only corporate brands engaged in pink washing. For the past four years, the National Football League has decorated its stadiums, players and coaches in pink for the month of October. Nevertheless, over the past years, high-profile NFL players have been charged with sexual violence and assault against women. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the League have barely acknowledged multiple sexual assault accusations against Roethlisberger.
As consumers, we should think before we buy. We should not support companies whose brands expose consumers to carcinogens, toxins, or misogyny.
Brittany Shoot, “Corporations Cashing in Big Time on Breast Cancer—5 Shocking Hypocrisies,” AlterNet, October 23, 2012, http://www.alternet.org/activism/corporations-cashing-big-time-breast-cancer-5-shocking-hypocrisies?page=0%2C0
Student Researcher: Chelsea Mays (College of Marin)
Faculty Evaluator: Susan Rahman (College of Marin)