It’s all about chemicals–bringing yes good but also insidiously and lethally bad things to life….DuPont, Dow Chemical and Monsanto, and collaborations thereof, have done much to advance human progress and much to undermine it with a history of production/utility casualties, cat ‘n mouse games and lawsuits marking their decades of product development. Over time, consumer safety guidelines are skirted, regulators are lobbied, truths stretched, evidence disappeared and examples of overt malfeasance continue to surface.
Much like the Tobacco lobby, these major chemical manufacturers retain a PR/Legal/Expert army to bury, deny, obfuscate and postpone to the extent possible any culpability for their vast environmental crimes. Last week’s Huffington Post article about DuPont’s campaign to suppress its misdeeds is a must-read. For those who’ve seen the movie, it’s Erin Brokovich re-visited of course; the horrific pollution damage of DuPont’s manufacturing of C-8 –a key chemical ingredient in Teflon– spread from West Virginia across to Ohio leaving swaths of dead cattle and people in its wake while communication in corporate and private emails, use of paid hacks and hired-gun scientists and other evidence demonstrates their willful ignorance and suppression of the growing environmental calamity.
Of course, millions of people grew up eating from Teflon non-stick pans and millions still buy non-stick cookware today. Teflon has been a game-changing money-maker. Turns out that the intrinsic chemical C-8 and its cousins are lethal to humans and animals and are purportedly present even in our dental floss, among other daily-use items. Worse, like Formaldehyde –also manufactured by DuPont–the C-8 chemicals reside in the body for decades after exposure.
The case law is legion with such examples of irresponsible corporate behavior, whether it be chemical, energy or other manufacturing villains. What’s always I suppose naively disappointing is the perpetrators’ brazen indifference and denial of the downstream impacts of their production processes. Corporate Social Responsibility and principles of Sustainability have become de rigeur for major brands. Companies may support the opera and inner-city school programs. Society should hold business accountable but then again, this is another example of priority-enforcement which is impossible to achieve without campaign finance reform. PAC reform is essential if Congress is really to concern itself with doing “the people’s business.”
Incidentally, the Bisphenol-A (BPA) chemicals which have lined most canned goods and many plastic containers since the 1950’s and have received much critical attention of late for their cancer-causing properties, are also manufactured by one of the big three, Dow Chemical and 4 other companies including Sunoco.
Soon, it will be hard to get corn which is not genetically engineered to cook in those non-stick pans, or consume in myriad other ways. The growing movement by State legislatures to promote consumer labeling-Bravo to Vermont and Colorado– is being mightily opposed by federal lawmakers bringing lawsuits thanks to intense lobbying by broad food industry influencers.
There’s always another case out there to be investigated. Kudos to the Huffington Post for publishing this particular report which tells this particular story of one community’s attempt to take on DuPont in a very compelling way; it’s fast-paced, replete with evidence, poignant testimonials and the always-interesting examples of societal divisions which occur when one victim decides to act in a community of peers who depend on the accused for their livelihood. This article is every bit as good as a New Yorker or Vanity Fair piece….highly recommend.