By Alan Caruba
Can you imagine going to Wal-Mart, Kroger’s, Safeway, Home Depot, and Best Buy, as well as your favorite supermarket only to find that literally thousands of products that rely on a wide range of chemicals to perform had been removed from the shelves?
That is the objective of “Mind the Store”, a campaign by an extensive coalition of environmental and health groups, to remove commonly used products such as cleaning supplies, furniture, children’s toys, food packaging, water bottles and a very long list of others that actually provide a healthier home and work environment for Americans.
In late May, another coalition, mostly free market advocates, sent a letter to the retailers mentioned and others, expressing their concern about the “Mind the Store” campaign and urging them “to stand firm against this well-funded, anti-science campaign of fear. Families don’t need false alarmism; they need access to safe and affordable products that make their lives easier, safer, cleaner and more comfortable.
Twenty-one representatives of groups signed the letter. I am an adviser to two of them, The Heartland Institute and the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), but joining them was the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the National Center for Public Policy Research, the Family Business Defense Council, National Center for Policy Analysis, and even the founder of Tea Party Nation.
Arrayed against them in the "Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families" coalition that has launched the new pressure campaign is a rogue’s gallery of environmental organizations that include Earthjustice, the Environmental Defense Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, and a number of “health” organizations that depend on keeping the public frightened in order to raise funds. They include the Association for Reproductive Health and Developmental Disabilities, Breast Cancer Fund, Autism Society of America, and the Learning Disabilities Association.
In the letter to retailers concerning the “Mind the Store” campaign, the coalition stated that the “Safer, Healthy Families organization which is leading the effort” to get thousands of products removed “is notorious for spreading incomplete information about chemicals. While the organization portrays itself as a consumer ‘watchdog’, it is better described as an attack dog determined to destroy free enterprise and consumer choice.”
“The organization has a pattern of relying on junk science; it capitalizes on the natural anxieties of parents by spreading scary stories about a long list of common products…”
In 1990 I created The National Anxiety Center as a clearinghouse for information about “scare campaigns” designed to influence public opinion and policies. In 2011, I wrote a six-part series about the on-going international attack on Bisphenal-A (BPA), a chemical that has been safely used for decades to protect plastic bottlers and other containers against the threat of botulism and breakage. It has been exonerated from the charges that continue to be made against it by the U.S. government, Canada, and other nations.
“Mind the Store” continues to spread lies about BPA, phthalates, formaldehyde, and certain flame retardants. All of these and more ensure a safer environment for the consumer. As the letter to retailers notes, “flame retardants, which are now common in furniture and building materials, are largely responsible for the sharp decline in household fires since the 1970s. Formaldehyde, which is used in personal care products, helps prevent bacterial growth. Phthalates are added to plastics to make toys less breakable. And Bisphenal-A, a chemical used in food packaging, safeguards against deadly botulism in canned food.”
On its Internet page, “Mind the Store” repeats all the lies that environmental and some “health” groups have been telling for decades. The language used speaks of “links” to diseases from cancer to asthma. There is a vast difference between alleged “links”, often based a skewed “scientific” studies, and the real science that has been conducted by U.S. and other governmental agencies.
“Mind the Store” is the continuation of well-funded campaigns that are, as often as not, simply repeated, but never investigated, claims intended to harm the economy and deprive consumers of products that keep them safe.
© Alan Caruba, 2013