The Daily Show Interviews WPI Graduate Karuna Jaggar

The Daily Show Interviews WPI Graduate Karuna Jaggar

Karuna Jaggar, graduate of the Women's Policy Institute and executive director of Breast Cancer Action, talks with the hilarious Samantha Bee about "pink fracking."

Karuna Jaggar is the executive director of Breast Center Action, an organization that has been speaking out against pinkwashing since 2002. That’s when they launched their Think Before You Pink® campaign to hold corporations accountable for their misleading pink ribbon promotions.

What is pinkwashing? According to Wikipedia, pinkwashing “is a form of cause marketing, using the Susan G. Komen Foundation pink ribbon, which represents support for breast cancer-related charities.”

According to Karuna, it’s often a marketing ploy to increase the corporate bottom line.

“Few people realize that Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) was launched by Astra Zeneca, a pharmaceutical company that sells cancer treatments on the one hand and carcinogenic pesticides on the other. So BCAM has all along been one big marketing campaign — arguably the most successful marketing campaign of the 20th century. This is why at Breast Cancer Action, we call October “Breast Cancer Industry Month,” the month when corporations make money professing how much they care about breast cancer by selling pink ribbon products.”

Oftentimes, Karuna explains, the very pink ribbon products that are supposed to raise awareness and money to fight cancer are actually harming women and causing cancer.

“Chevrolet is donating $10 for each test drive to the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer—which sounds like a generous donation,” she writes on the Breast Cancer Action blog.

“What Chevrolet is not addressing, or even educating the public about, is the fact that pumping gas and breathing auto exhaust exposes women to chemicals that cause breast cancer and other health harms. Furthermore, women who work in auto factories are exposed to a range of harmful chemicals such as benzene which is used to manufacture rubber tires, chromium and nickel for welding and machining, and formaldehyde in the manufacturing of plastics and textiles — each of which is linked to an increased risk of cancer.”

Pink fracking, poignantly ridiculed in this Daily Show segment by the unbeatable Samantha Bee, is yet another way a pink ribbon product is harming women instead of helping them. More than 750 chemicals are used in fracking fluids, from benzene to formaldehyde, and many are proven to case cancer and other serious illnesses.

Karuna and Breast Cancer Action are calling on environmentalists, health activists and the industry to reform the Toxic Substance Control Act, an outdated law that doesn’t provide adequate protection from the thousands of hazardous chemicals found in everyday products. Please sign their petition.

Karuna Jaggar attended the Women’s Policy Institute in 2009. She was a member of our Economic Justice team and worked on AB 1139 (Perez). The bill intended to revive California’s communities that have been hardest hit by the economic crisis. The bill unfortunately died in the California State Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy.

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