Saturday, May 08, 2010

Please boycott the American Cancer Society

Talk about being a card carrying member of the veal pen, Holy shit! 

This week, the White House released an advanced copy of a report from the President’s Cancer Panel.  It's surprisingly good.  Among the findings:

It calls on America to rethink the way we confront cancer, including much more rigorous regulation of chemicals. Traditionally, we reduce cancer risks through regular doctor visits, self-examinations and screenings such as mammograms. The President’s Cancer Panel suggests other eye-opening steps as well, such as giving preference to organic food, checking radon levels in the home and microwaving food in glass containers rather than plastic.

More importantly, the report suggests that the dangers of cancer from chemicals in the environment are a huge problem that deserves more attention.

“Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” the report says. It adds: “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.”

The President’s Cancer Panel report will give a boost to Senator Feinstein’s efforts. It may also help the prospects of the Safe Chemicals Act, backed by Senator Frank Lautenberg and several colleagues, to improve the safety of chemicals on the market.

Finally, finally(!) we have a rigorous scientific study that will get lots of attention and begin the process of regulating some of the 80,000 synthetic chemicals in our environment that are untested and unregulated -- and likely causing cancer in children and adults.

So what does the American Cancer Society do with this good news? In a statement this week they poured cold water all over it and said it went too far:

A dire government report on cancer risks from chemicals and other hazards in the environment has drawn criticism from the American Cancer Society, which says government experts are overstating their case. 

WTF!?  Complete and total insanity.  Or rather, this is what your brain looks like on corporatism. 

The American Cancer Society is one of the wealthiest non-profits in the world.  For every $1 spent on direct service, approximately $6.40 is spent on compensation and overhead.  Their board is chock full of wealthy corporatists and pharmaceutical executives who don't make money on prevention -- they only make money on new drugs to treat cancer.  So faced with the opportunity to REDUCE cancer by regulating synthetic chemicals in the environment that may cause cancer, the American Cancer Society says "no thanks."

That's cool.  Fuck 'em.  If the American Cancer Society won't step up to prevent and reduce toxins in the environment (for fear it would hurt the interests of their corporate board members) then I say we boycott their ass. 

So please don't give money to the American Cancer Society -- no matter how nice those return address labels they send you for free in the mail might be.  Thanks!  

Also if the American Cancer Society wants to be the PR firm for wealth industrialists (read: toxic polluters) and pharmaceutical companies, that's fine.  But they should have their 501(c)(3) non-profit status revoked as a result.   

Update #1:  Yeah, yeah I know that the American Cancer Society statement was kinda nuanced and said a few nice things about regulation as well.  But they also knew full well that they are an issue validator (meaning that people look to them to lead on the issue of cancer -- and if they don't choose to lead on a particular fight, no one else is going to get out further in front than they are. Issue validators, because they are closer to the issue than the general public, give the signal to the wider community when something is worth fighting and when it is not).  And when Dr. Michael Thun, an epidemiologist from the cancer society, posts a statement calling the report unbalanced -- they knew full well how it would be used in the debate to knock down attempts at regulation.  It's really quite shameful. 

If you want to reduce cancer causing toxic chemicals in the environment, please donate to the Environmental Working Group instead.

Update #2.  Apparently, this is not the first time that the American Cancer Society has gone out of its way to oppose efforts to alert the public about environmental causes of cancer.  From the May 10, 2010 edition of the New York Times:

New York unveiled what it billed as the nation’s first comprehensive statewide cancer map, which became available Monday on the Web site of the State Department of Health. The creation of the map was opposed by the American Cancer Society when it was proposed two years ago...

It's really hard to overstate how completely vile it is for a group called the American Cancer Society to go out of its way to shield industrial polluters from scrutiny, so that the the pharmaceutical companies on their board can make more money. 

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