Lefty Group Uses Pink to Camouflage Green Activism, Attack Business
This is the second part of a BMI report related to BPA, a chemical commonly found in plastics. To read part one click here.
The media haven’t been alone in the campaign against supposedly “toxic” chemicals like BPA. Liberal Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., introduced a bill in Jan. 2011 that would ban it in all food and beverage containers. That is exactly what many left-wing groups have also been pushing for. On March 6, 2012, Markey’s office also sent a letter to several food companies fishing for information regarding their use of BPA (PDF is attached).
Environmental activists have worked hard to demonize BPA (and other chemicals), and they’ve successfully bullied some companies into moving away from the plastics chemical, simply by generating a controversy.
One of those groups, Breast Cancer Fund, sounds innocuous enough. By name only, it appears to be a $3 million charity devoted to fighting breast cancer, but an examination of the goals, partners and propaganda of BCF makes it clear that it’s just another extreme environmental group cloaked in pink. Unsurprisingly, BCF threw its support behind Markey’s BPA ban in 2011.
The media have helped maintain the group’s facade. In 2010, The Los Angeles Times listed Breast Cancer Fund among the “top breast cancer charities.” CTV, a Canadian network, labeled it a “US-based cancer group.” In April 2011, USA Today managed to call BCF an “advocacy group,” but without explaining what it advocates.
The current president of BCF is left-wing activist Jeanne Rizzo who also sued to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage a few years ago. The group’s major alliances are with left-wing environmental groups like Earthjustice and Natural Resources Defense Council. In 2010, NRDC filed suit against the FDA in an attempt to get the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA ) banned, and the FDA is set to respond by March 31, 2012. Of course, BCF supports the same agenda.
Chemical scares from unscientific “studies” generated by groups like BCF, and hyped by the liberal media, have a very real impact on companies. On March 6, 2012, Packaging Digest reported that Campbell’s will be phasing out BPA in soup cans because of consumer fears. BCF crowed, calling it a “victory” since, in Sept. 2011, the group stoked such fears with a “report” showing the amount of BPA in canned goods marketed to kids and called out Campbell’s in particular for having concerning levels of BPA.
“As you know, Bisphenol-a or BPA, is widely used in metal food packaging to help preserve and protect food and to maintain its nutritional value and quality. We believe that current can packaging is one of the safest options in the world; however we recognize that there is some debate over the use of BPA …” said Campbell’s CFO Craig Owens.
Overseas, U.S. companies are already set to be hit with higher cost burdens due to France’s BPA ban. A report from the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service said the French ban would put U.S. exports to that country in jeopardy because of the cost to modify packaging.
The BCF website boasts an attention-getting interactive menu warning of the dangers lurking in 21 ordinary household items including water bottles, canned foods, cell phones, rubber ducks, sunscreen and your groceries. As visitors click on the items, they find out what BCF claims is wrong with them, for example, clicking on a houseplant warns “It’s no surprise that household herbicides like weed killers aren’t all that great for humans, so take care and look for natural alternatives.”
Clicking on a cell phone results in this pop up warning: “There’s growing evidence that electromagnetic waves produced by wireless networking, computers and cell phones may be bad for us.” (emphasis added)
Neither of those warnings say anything about breast cancer. But with another click, this time on the automobile, the groups environmental agenda becomes clearer. “Car exhaust is bad for us and bad for the planet. The less exhaust we create and breathe, the better,” says the pop up from the image of a car.
If the section headers of the BCF website are to be believed, there is “clear science” on the issue. But the page about chemicals linked to breast cancer undercuts its claims in the very first paragraph:
It’s difficult to examine the effects of individual chemicals on risk for a disease as complex as breast cancer. The time between exposures and development of the disease may be decades; we may not know what chemicals we’ve been exposed to; and we are not exposed to chemicals in isolation.
But that doesn’t stop the BCF from drawing the conclusion that “it’s clear: the chemicals in our environment play a role in altering our biological processes. It’s clear that our exposures to toxic chemicals and radiation are connected to our breast cancer risk.”
One of the chemicals BCF has gone after time and again is bisphenol A (BPA), which it claims in very first paragraph of that chemical’s page: “has been associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease, miscarriages, breast and prostate cancer, reproductive dysfunction, metabolic dysfunction and diabetes, and neurological and behavioral disorders.”
But just like the broadcast networks, BCF ignores or criticizes studies that fail to find BPA harmful at the levels humans are exposed to. For example, Leading British endocrinologist Richard Sharpe said that a “huge” and “scientifically” rigorous study called Ryan et al. “throws cold water” on the BPA controversy “by showing complete absence of effect of a range of bisphenol A exposures.”
Another study, Teeguarden et al. in 2011, found little evidence of active BPA migrating to the bloodstream (which would have to happen to have the estrogenic effects BCF and others claim it has). The study’s author, Justin Teeguarden was quoted saying, “In a nutshell, we can now say for the adult human population exposed to even very high dietary levels, blood concentrations of the bioactive form of BPA through the day are below our ability to detect them, and orders of magnitude lower than those causing effects in rodents exposed to BPA.” Both of those studies were excluded from BCF’s page on BPA.
BCF was also critical of the Institute of Medicine study, funded by Susan G. Komen for the Cure, in Dec. 2011, because it did not label BPA a breast cancer risk factor. A statement from the BCF president claimed the IOM “relies on an antiquated model of weighing the evidence and, therefore, does not go far enough to protect public health.”
Breast Cancer Fund’s ‘Progressive’ Connections
The San Francisco non-profit is also well tied in to other far left-wing groups, politicians and donors from liberal Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, to left-wing billionaire George Soros.
Out of Breast Cancer Fund’s seven “key coalitions” and 55 additional organizations it works with, at least 45 of them are anti-chemical and/or environmental groups. The list includes the Silent Spring Institute (named after environmental extremist Rachel Carson’s book, which demonized malaria-killing DDT), Rachel’s Friends (another group named after Carson), Women’s Voices for the Earth, National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Earthjustice and the Environmental Working Group. Noticeably absent from that list were major cancer groups such as the American Cancer Society and Komen.
Andrea Ravinett Martin, BCF’s founder, worked for Feinstein when she was running for governor of California in 1990 and when she ran for Senate. Feinstein earned a 90 percent liberal rating from Americans for Democratic Action in 2010. Shannon Coughlin, BCF’s director of communications, worked for the Soros-funded Tides Foundation from 2000-2003.
Rizzo, the current president of BCF, founded one of those left-wing environmental partner organizations: The Collaborative on Health and the Environment. The group calls itself CHE, like the murdering, marxist revolutionary, and is “committed to strengthening the scientific and public dialogue on environmental factors linked to chronic disease and disability.” The group’s breast cancer working group focuses on “environmental exposures” (aka: chemicals). Rizzo also helped found The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which counts a Soros-funded propaganda video about cosmetics among its “victories.”
That 7-minute short film, The Story of Cosmetics, is an anti-chemical, anti-business propaganda piece from Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff Project. The video even included a subtle attack on the Susan G. Komen foundation (and its corporate partners), the same breast cancer charity that was recently attacked by the left over ending grants to Planned Parenthood.
According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, groups including BCF have benefited from that Komen controversy. That Feb. 7, 2012 article, said “charities that fight cancer are starting to receive phone calls and checks from donors who are bailing on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation after the controversy over its support for Planned Parenthood.” Rizzo, of BCF, was the first person quoted by The Chronicle and indicated her group gained financial support because of it. But that article didn’t point out that BCF had been one of the left-wing groups attacking Komen, and not just over Planned Parenthood.
In late 2011, BCF was one of the anti-chemical groups that criticized Komen for its failure to label bisphenol A (BPA) as a cause of breast cancer. Komen had paid the Institute of Medicine to do a study of environmental risks of breast cancer, but when their findings did not call BPA a certain risk, the left was furious. According to the Institute of Medicine’s press release, evidence that BPA (and a couple other chemicals) was a breast cancer risk factor was either “insufficient or contradictory.”
Amy Silverstein cited many critics who say Komen is “in the pocket” of “BPA-happy sponsors” in an Oct. 3, 2011 article for Mother Jones. The Breast Cancer Fund said the study “relies on an antiquated model of weighing the evidence.”
In the Story of Cosmetics video, an Estee Lauder beauty product was shown with a ribbon on it (a Komen logo). At the same time, a pop up at the bottom of the screen read: “Ever heard of pinkwashing?”
Leonard, the maker of the video and the “The Story of Stuff” project is an anti-consumerism activist who used to work for Greenpeace, and writes for the liberal website Huffington Post. Leonard’s 2007 project The Story of Stuff was primarily funded by the Tides Foundation, and much of that money comes from none other than George Soros. That isn’t even a secret, since The Story of Stuff website brags that they are “proud to be fiscally sponsored by San Francisco’s Tides Center.”
One of Leonard’s other videos attacked bottled water and rejoiced that the left-wing attacks on bottled water were bearing fruit: “Carrying bottled water is on its way to being as cool as smoking while pregnant.”
BCF’s Green Resumes
Not only does Breast Cancer Fund partner primarily with anti-chemical and other “green” groups, it is run by activists with lengthy bios in the environmental movement, not cancer groups.
Like Rizzo and Coughlin, other BCF employees have worked for a variety of left-wing and environmental activist groups or trained with them. Gretchen Salter, a policy manager at BCF, previously worked for the Democratic National Committee and Dean for America.
Lisa Archer, BCF’s National Coordinator for the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, trained with a left-wing group called Green Corps. According to a video interview with Archer, she was passionate about issues like women’s rights and climate change in college, but it was Green Corps training that she learned to turn her ideas into action. There she “got to work with a broad coalition of environmental, labor and human rights organizations, spanning from the Sierra Club to Amnesty International.”
According to its website, the mission of Green Corps “is to train organizers, provide field support for today’s critical environmental campaigns, and graduate activists who possess the skills, temperament, and commitment to fight and win tomorrow’s environmental battles.” (emphasis added) Under “victories,” Green Corps brags about many things including an anti-coal campaign (the Sierra’s Clubs Beyond Coal project), “exposing the abuses of the bottled water industry,” and a Solar Yes! campaign to get voters in California to approve ballot measures for a solar facility in San Francisco.
Other Green Corps alumni include Justin Ruben of MoveOn.org, Orli Cotel of the Sierra Club and Phil Radford of Greenpeace.
The training program is a project of U.S. PIRG, which was founded by Ralph Nader. While it bills itself as a consumer group, is a left-wing pro-regulatory organization that fights against corporate money in elections, for higher taxes on corporations and seeks additional regulation on produces under the guise of “consumer protection.”
After Green Corps, but before she came to BCF, Archer was with Friends of the Earth which calls itself a “bold and fearless voice for justice and the environment.” FOE has fought against the Keystone XL pipeline, seeks to close existing nuclear reactors and stop new nuclear reactors from being built and desires as “strong and just” global climate agreement.