“Doing our bit for the cure.”
It’s an eyebrow-raising slogan drawing new attention to a two-year-old partnership between the Susan G. Koman Foundation and one of the world’s largest oilfield firms, Baker Hughes.
For the second October in a row, the Houston-based company announced it would paint 1,000 of its gold drill bits pink to “serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening, and education to help find cures for this disease.”
According to the blog Fuel Fix, it’s the multi-billion-dollar company’s wish “the roughneck who cracks open that container learns a little more about the disease.”
On top of painting its drill tips pink for market, Baker Hughes promised a $100,000 U.S. donation to the breast cancer charity; a sliver of a fraction of a percentage of the $22.4 billion in earnings the company declared last year.
“Our hope is from the water cooler to the rig site to the coffee shop to everywhere, someone gets this information to their spouses, their girlfriends, their daughters so we can create awareness and and this disease forever,” said Bill Debo, Baker Hughes' director of operations for U.S. land drill bits.
But don’t colour one advocacy group impressed by the pink bits.
On Wednesday, Breast Cancer Action thanked Susan G. Komen and Baker Hughes for creating “the most ludicrous piece of pink sh*t” they’ve seen so far.
“With all the toxic chemicals Baker Hughes is pumping into the ground, we thought they didn't care about women’s health,” said executive director Karuna Jagger in a statement. “However, this partnership with Komen makes it clear where both organizations stand on the issue.”
Baker Hughes is involved in hydraulic fracturing, a process often referred to as “fracking” — one known to expose workers to carcinogenic chemicals. Some studies have even suggested elevated cancer rates in areas near fracking sites.
“Personally, I love a good dose of benzene with my pink ribbon,” Jagger said.
A spokesperson for the foundation later told the International Business Times any correlations, as of this point, between fracking carcinogens and increased cancer diagnosis rates “does not establish a connection” between the two.
Despite the renewed outcry over the irony of its latest commercial awareness campaign blitz, this isn’t the first time the Susan G. Koman Foundation has been accused of pinkwashing.
The charity has also been criticized for its partnerships with the Coca-Cola Bottling Company and the Ford Motor Company; two corporations who actively downplay adverse health effects associated with plastics and gas emission toxins, respectively.
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