If you’ve been following The Magical Buffet for a while you know that I am a big supporter of Breast Cancer Action. They understand that the issue of cancer is more than just a matter of health policies, but also environmentalism and social justice. They accept no donations from corporations and do real work that potentially helps everyone. That’s why every year I highlight their “Think Before You Pink” campaign. Take a moment to read this press release they sent me for this year’s campaign and if so moved, take action yourself.
This week Breast Cancer Action, the respected watchdog for the breast cancer movement, launched their “Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer” campaign on day one of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In an open letter in the Detroit Free Press today, they also issued a direct challenge to the CEO and Executive Chairman of Ford Motor Company, demanding they “Go Further” than their Warriors in Pink program by ending production of vehicles that increase the risk of breast cancer.
Today, marks both the first day of Breast Cancer Industry (aka Awareness) Month and the 100th anniversary of Ford’s Model T, the first mass-marketed automobile. Breast Cancer Action’s executive director, Karuna Jaggar, says: “On the 100th anniversary of the introduction of the Model T, we’re calling on Ford to bring an all-electric fleet to the masses.”
“Earlier this year, Ford announced plans to go full-throttle on sales in the U.S. of trucks and SUVs, which are some of Ford’s highest emission vehicles. Ford is trying to tell us that they care about breast cancer, but in reality they’re making business decisions that will increase our exposure to chemicals that cause breast cancer. We call this pinkwashing,” said Jaggar.
Some of the first chemicals identified by researchers as increasing the risk of breast cancer are found in the exhaust from combustion engines: carcinogens and hormone disruptors such as benzene, 1,3-butadiene, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Benzene is such a potent mammary carcinogen that it has been linked to breast cancer in men. The 2009 President’s Cancer Panel recommended limiting exposure to auto exhaust, noting that cars, trucks, and other passenger vehicles “are responsible for approximately 30 percent of cancer resulting from air pollution.”
In April of this year, Ford announced they will almost exclusively sell SUVs and trucks in the U.S., which have less-regulated emissions. They will also launch a new diesel version of the F-150 truck. Meanwhile, they will stop selling their zero emission, 100 percent electric vehicle, and nearly all their other lower emission passenger cars. “Diesel is enriched with nitro PAHs,” notes Jaggar. “This means now the F-150, America’s best-selling truck, is offered with even more potent mammary carcinogens.”
Attempting to brush aside criticism for these recent announcements, Ford is publicizing plans for future investment in electrification—nearly all of which will be in China, due to higher regulation standards. At a major auto show in the U.S. earlier this year, Ford notably failed to showcase any electric vehicles. Additionally, Ford has been lobbying the Trump administration to lower emission standards in the U.S.
“Breast cancer is a public health crisis and a social justice issue,” said Jaggar. “We can’t afford to hold our breath and hope Ford’s promise of new, cleaner vehicles will come to the U.S. sometime down the road. Instead of pinkwashing and platitudes, Ford can “Go Further” by making the shift to 100 percent zero emission vehicles now.”
Ford’s Warriors in Pink program sells branded clothes and other gear in order to raise money for four breast cancer charities. But Jaggar said, “We see through the pink-tinted smoke screen of Ford’s Warriors in Pink. This is a just feel-good attempt by Ford to distract attention away from their role in driving up the risk of breast cancer.”
Everyone in the U.S. is exposed to Ford’s auto exhaust, whether or not they drive a Ford vehicle. As one of the Big Three automobile manufacturers in the U.S., Ford is in a position to make a big difference in reducing cancer rates by making clean vehicles.
“One hundred years ago, Ford made its name by bringing the Model-T to the masses,” said Jaggar. “Now it’s time for Ford to bring an all-electric fleet to the masses. By turning away from cancer-causing combustion engines and towards zero emission cars and trucks, Ford can truly help put the brakes on the breast cancer epidemic. After all, the best way to fight cancer is to prevent it in the first place.”
Breast Cancer Action’s “Put the Brakes on Breast Cancer” campaign is supported by more than 14 health and environmental justice organizations, and is Breast Cancer Action’s 2018 Think Before You Pink® campaign. Since 2002, when Breast Cancer action coined the term pinkwashing, they have been demanding transparency and accountability in breast cancer marketing and pink ribbon promotions.
Find out more at http://www.bcaction.org.