Monday, January 22, 2007

Rubber Ducky, you're the one (who lost my testicle)

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Plastics.

Henitsirk left a comment on a previous post of mine, in which I was just going for gratuitous cuteness:
**Unsolicited advice alert**

If you're concerned about reducing plastics for him (polystyrene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride, oh my!) we had good success feeding our kids with little wooden spoons sold as spice or condiment spoons. They're still softer than metal and are non-toxic.
In fact, as we've investigated 3B's cryptorchidism, and possible causes for it, we're extremely concerned about plastics. For obvious reasons, we're focused on phthalates at Casa Bradstein. There are, of course, two or more sides to every story. In the case of phthlates, there are concerned consumers vs. the chemical capitalists of the American Chemistry Council. Although the title of the ACC makes it sound like the main concern of the corporations behind it is science, the trend of phthalate research by scientists appears to be coalescing around the conclusion that phthalates are more dangerous than the ACC is representing.

The government of the European Union certainly thinks phthalates are hazardous to children, having prohibited the use of phthalates in children's toys since 1999. The City of San Francisco was set to enact a similar ban until they were sued by the chemical capitalists, who likely have a larger legal budget than the City does. Given that a ban by the California Legislature--which would supersede the S.F. ban and redirect the suit at the State of California--is unlikely, it appears that the courts of California will be deciding the merits of the S.F. ban soon.

In addition to lawsuits and lobbying, the chemical capitalists of the ACC have taken their case to the public, through a website dedicated to making their case that phthalates are safe. I think that, rather than proving their case, the ACC site demonstrates that they believe they have something to be scared of. Of course, the chemical capitalists will claim that they're just scared of slumping sales caused by bad publicity, but I think that they're scared of change and hemmoraging money through lawsuits. The irony of their fear is that if they embraced change and created an innovative solution that made it possible to manufacture toys with the same functionality with none of the hazards, parents would pay though the nose for them, bringing them abundant profits.

This would be the same lesson that the auto industry learned after arguing for years that it was too expensive to put air bags in cars, only to tout air bags as safety benefit worth paying thousands more for after the goverment forced them to install them in cars. Because most CEOs are cut from the same cloth, I imagine that the chemical capitalists are betting, with shareholders' money, that their arguments about phthalates will succeed where car manufacturers' arguments against air bags failed--and corporate social responsibility be damned.

But the chemical capitalists' website is so transparently disingenuous, I can't imagine that anyone will consider it a legitimate information source. And that "blog" by "Marian"--Maid Marian? Madame Librarian? Who knows?--is as credible as McDonald's Abe Lincoln french fry blog. My guess is that the voice of the blog doesn't come from the mouth of Maid Marian, but rather comes from the mouth under the pornstache of chief chemical capitalist, Andrew Liveris.

My favorite part of their entire faux site is the first graphic in their Flash animation . . . Waitaminnit--Flash? Seriously? That turns me off to your snake oil even before it finishes loading . . . where were we? Oh yeah, the first graphic in their Flash animation, which sports a man beaming with a smile and the headline, "Performance. Convenience. Fun."

I guess that's catchier than "Cryptorchidism. Demasculinization. Tumors."

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1 comment:

  1. Current corporate law: the shareholders' profits are paramount.

    What does this equal? Amoral corporations, marketing disguised as public awareness announcements, and extremely well-paid lobbyists.

    Blech. If I could crochet all my kids' toys, maybe I wouldn't have to worry about this stuff!