No… this isn’t The Onion. It’s an unbelievable case of pinkwashing, greenwashing and whitewashing. As we mentioned yesterday, the Susan G. Komen Foundation–which you’ll recall tried to pull funding for cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood a couple years ago–is teaming up with the fracking company Baker Hughes to distribute 1,000 drill bits around the world. Fracking is extremely dangerous and has been linked to several cancers, including breast cancer. But, at the same time, the drill bits are pink. So that totally empty color-based symbolism more than makes up for it.
In order to understand the mind-blowing irony and dishonesty of the campaign, let’s quickly review what fracking is. Fracking is actually the adorable nickname for hydraulic fracturing, a drilling technique used to extract oil or gas from deep underground. A high-pressure mix of water, sand, and chemicals is injected into the ground, which fractures the rock, creating fissures and cracks through which the gas or oil comes out. Fracking harms the environment and our health. It releases methane gas that contributes to global warming, requires the use and transport of huge amounts of water–millions of gallons of water are used in just one fracking operation–and triggers earthquakes. The chemicals used in fracking include known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors which poison the water, the land, and the air. According to Breast Cancer Action, at least 25 percent of the more than 700 chemicals used in fracking are linked to cancer.
To see the dramatic effects of fracking, watch this excerpt from the Emmy Award-winning and Oscar nominated documentary Gasland:
So, how beautiful for the Baker Hughes Company, which made $22.4 billion fracking last year, to donate $100,000 to Susan G. Komen. Komen has previously pinkwashed everything from toxic perfume to guns and now, as it explains on its website, Baker Hughes “will paint and distribute a total of 1,000 pink drill bits worldwide. The pink bits serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening, and education to help find the cures for this disease, which claims a life every 60 seconds.”
In an appropriately snarky press release–because it’s better to laugh than cry–Breast Cancer Action praised the partnership between Susan G, Komen and the Baker Hughes company as “the most ludicrous piece of pink sh*t they’ve seen all year.”
BCAction hailed this partnership as the most egregious example of “pinkwashing” they’ve ever seen and heartily lauded Komen and Baker Hughes for doing their bit to increase women’s risk of breast cancer with their toxic fracking chemicals.
BCAction commended Baker Hughes and Komen for their ingenious pinkwashing profit cycle, whereby Baker Hughes helps fuel breast cancer while Komen raises millions of dollars to try to cure it.
Breast Cancer Action executive director Karuna Jaggar gushed, “With all the toxic chemicals Baker Hughes is pumping into the ground, we thought they didn’t care about women’s health. However, this partnership with Komen makes it clear where both organizations stand on this issue…When future generations have to choose between safe drinking water and developing breast cancer, they can look back and thank Baker Hughes and Susan G. Komen.”
Sign the Breast Cancer Action petition calling on Susan G. Komen to take a stand on fracking here.
- Are mainstream breast cancer awareness initiatives hurting more than they’re helping?
- Peggy Orenstein urges us to “think about pink”