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Bank of America's Pink Ribbon card

Bank of America's promotional image for its Pink Ribbon Card.

Anti-'Pinkwashing' Campaign Sets Sight on Komen Partnership With Fossil Fuel-Backer Bank of America

Group says prominent foundation must end its partnership with the Wall Street giant, "a primary funder of the fossil fuel industry—an industry that’s fueling the climate and breast cancer crises!"

Andrea Germanos

As corporations nationwide "go pink" in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month beginning Friday, an advocacy group has launched a campaign targeting one of the best known names related to the fight against the disease—Susan G. Komen—over the organization's partnership with Bank of America, which "funds the cancer-causing fossil fuel industry."

The campaign is part of Breast Cancer Action's ongoing efforts to push back against what it's coined "pinkwashing"—when a company promotes a product emblazoned with pink ribbons signifying the battle against breast cancer but simultaneously markets or produces a product linked to the disease.

"At Breast Cancer Action," said the group's executive director, Dr. Krystal Redman, "we demand accountability and transparency, and we expect our allies in the breast cancer field to follow through on their promises to address and end breast cancer. We call out those who use the pink ribbon with no intention other than virtue signaling, or worse yet lining their own pockets."

Komen has been at the center of previous "Think before you pink" annual campaigns by BCAction, including its 2010 "What the cluck" effort targeting Komen's partnership with KFC. 

At issue this year is the Pink Ribbon Banking program. When a Bank of America customer uses a Pink Ribbon credit card, "Komen receives at least $3 plus 0.08% of all purchases (less returns)," the foundation states on its website. Those funds are part of the $1.5 million the bank pledged to Komen from the start of this year until the end of 2023. The bank also offers a Pink Ribbon debit card.

According to BCAction, the cards "are a blatant example of pinkwashing." The campaign explains what it frames as the heart of the problem:

Bank of America is a top financial contributor to the fossil fuel industry, an industry that increases our risk for breast cancer through environmental exposures produced all along the fossil fuel continuum. We are exposed to chemicals such as benzene, polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, and PFAS from extraction to processing, to exposure to fossil fuel products and byproducts.

Susan G. Komen is pinkwashing by accepting money from a Pink Ribbon Banking Program that also grows the profits of Bank of America, which funds the cancer-causing fossil fuel industry. Susan G. Komen cannot claim to care about ending breast cancer while pocketing MILLIONS from an industry that causes the disease.

As one example, the campaign notes Bank of America's financial backing of the controversial Line 3 tar sands pipeline—support which has already led to accusations of the bank "greenwashing" by climate campaigners.

Also referenced by the campaign is a recent analysis led by Rainforest Action Network naming Bank of America as among the four worst banks in terms of financing fossil fuels globally from 2016 to 2020.

"The financial industry's continued support of fossil fuel projects," Breast Cancer Action program manager Jayla Burton said in a statement, "proliferates a legacy of climate destruction, environmental racism, and public health negligence."

Komen's partnership with the bank must come to an end, the campaign aruges, if Komen is to stop running afoul of its own stated goal.

"Susan G. Komen claims to be 'where the end of breast cancer begins.' If this is true," organizers wrote, the foundation "must stop banking on breast cancer and divest from pinkwashing! Phase out the Pink Ribbon Banking Program with Bank of America, a primary funder of the fossil fuel industry—an industry that’s fueling the climate and breast cancer crises!" 

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