CARE PRODUCTS DO NOT YET COMPLY WITH
THE NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM - October 2002
BY LACEY PHILLABAUM
(with article interview/quotes
from Joseph...below in blue)
most organic producers may see beauty care as marginally related
to their organic endeavors, the expansion of organic standards
to cover the sector will have profound conceptual and regulatory
implications for the whole organic industry.
care products are notoriously under-regulated. Any number of dangerous
chemical and synthetic additives are used in their processing.
The National Organic Program (NOP) has been vague about when and
whether organic personal care products will be held to the same
standards as organic foods. In the meantime, body care manufactures
have seized on the label "organic" as a marketing scheme,
sometimes heralding a negligible amount of organic ingredients
while their bottles are filled with the same synthetic chemicals.
consumers pay premium prices for "organic" products
under the misconception that they are materially different than
the non-organic products on the shelf. New chemical scares and
unverified claims about the health benefits of organic personal
care products will continue to drive phenomenal sales growth.
care manufacturers have set out to develop their own standards
for organic processing. Many insist that their products simply
cannot be made in a manner compliant with existing organic standards
and want to list hundreds of synthetic processing ingredients
as allowable for organic personal care. Their draft standards
have tended towards leniency in many regards.
the search for organic personal care standards may force the organic
industry to define its outer bounds. If organic is a concept indicative
of a lifestyle, organic personal care might be an important element.
But if organic is a strict agricultural standard, large commercial
processing of organic personal care products may not even be possible.
now, organic personal care products making fraudulent claims,
using toxic ingredients and, at the very least, misleadingly labeled
will continue to crowd the shelves of natural food stores.
Conventional Beauty in America
The larger cosmetic industry increasingly looks to the organic
niche as the newest in a long series of "innovations"
that drive the market, constantly repackaging "hope in a
bottle." North Americans spend $154 per year per capita on
cosmetics. The personal care industry in the US is about a $30
billion a year business. Of the $6.25 billion spent on cosmetics
alone in this country in 2000, $190 million was for natural and
industry's hopes for eternal youth are validated by stunning 39
percent growth in the natural and organic cosmetic sector annually.
In one survey conducted by Health, 83 percent of responding consumers
indicated that they would rather use all natural body products,
though more than half could not define "natural" or
myth of beauty and veil of glamour shrouding the sophisticated
world of international cosmetics is the stuff of teenage pulp
romance, underlain by a global empire of Oz-like proportions,
in legend. Liliane Bettencourt, the daughter of L'Oreal founder
Eugene Schueller, is the richest person in Europe, with a fortune
of $20 billion. But many cosmetic companies have fallen prey to
the global recession this past year. Estee Lauder posted a 22
percent drop in net profits in the first fiscal quarter of 2001,
with its stock value 34 percent lower for the year. Revlon has
suffered nine straight quarters of losses, and its stock is half
of what it was a year ago. While these giant cosmetic brands may
seem a far cry from natural and organic personal care products,
they increasingly look to "organic" as a new marketing
concept. Global giant Unilever launched its own organic shampoo
in 2000 to much hue and cry. Twenty-year industry leader Aveda
was bought by Estee Lauder in 1998.
houses feed on innovations; without them, the market stalls. The
industry has no place to go but up. The demand for their products
must be constantly remanufactured through "innovation."
"One of the dilemmas facing the industry at the moment is
that penetration of many product sectors is extremely high, leaving
little scope for attracting new users," explains trade journal
Soap, Perfumery and Cosmetics. "Brand loyalty is extremely
strong for cosmetics and toiletries and new product development
is the key to keeping customers sweet." The journalquotes
the PR manager for European manufacturer, Mintel, asking, "How
can we increase usage among European consumers? Do we change consumer
perception or make the product more exciting so that they use
more?" One database service for cosmetics logs 300 new products
a day. "With penetration levels for many categories reaching
an all-time high, companies need to explore different ways of
attracting new users," says Soap, Perfumery and Cosmetics.
international manufacturers would very much like to subsume organic
within the category of natural. They may not even realize they
are different. "The natural trend now encompasses organic,
food and aqua ingredients," writes Soap, Perfumery and Cosmetics.
A study of the natural trend by business consultants Article 13
"revealed a new context for natural based on consumers' increasing
awareness of healthy eating, keeping fit, looking after oneself
and the benefits of 'me time.'" "Natural is a very rich
theme, but it is changing very quickly," said Jane Fiona
Cumming of Article 13.
development of the "aqua" trend in cosmetics highlights
the approach to conceptual marketing that the myth-making cosmetic
industry would like to apply to organics. "Aqua is associated
with moisture or moisturizing, and is not always restricted to
cosmetics and toiletries," said Mintel's David Jago. The
"aqua" product need only conjure hydrating images, not
fulfill the association with hydration.
Lifestyle or Method?
But organic is neither concept, theme, nor marketing ploy. It
is, first and foremost, an agricultural method. Unchecked, the
proliferation of the organic beauty market could redefine organic
into the language of body care, overwhelming organic agricultural
products through sheer number of SKUs and revenue size. With just
$26 billion in global organic sales projected for this year, the
entire trade is dwarfed by the $30 billion US cosmetics market.
In fact the entire US organic market is just larger than the wholesale
market for cosmetic chemicals in the US, which themselves are
just one small part of product formulations.
organic advocates have lamented the shift from community to industry,
a more important dialectic between lifestyle choice and agricultural
method has been neglected. The tension on the line between the
community and the industry has slipped unawares through the grasp
of organic farmers and their advocates. Organic personal care
manufacturing will benefit four big cosmetic chemical manufacturers
unless rigorous processing standards are developed and enforced.
Only by tying organic beauty care closely to the National Organic
Program standards can the "lifestyle" marketed by the
manufacturers represent the values at the core of organic agriculture.
Down at the Chemical Lab
The growth of the natural body care industry has not slowed the
market for chemical additives for such products. In fact, the
chemical companies expect to profit from the trend. "The
incorporation of active ingredients, such as plant acids and enzymes,
into toiletries and cosmetics has become a major force behind
growth in an otherwise mature industry," according to a chemical
industry analyst from the Freedonia Group. "These chemicals
are sold primarily on the basis of performance rather than price,
with demand driven by their substantial marketing value."
Chemical is one of four big cosmetic chemical suppliers which
cumulatively claim more than 25 percent of US cosmetic and toiletry
chemical sales. They expect a five percent growth insales to $5.6
billion this year. Another of the large chemical suppliers, Cognis,
recently introduced plant extracts of three different purity levels
for use in cosmetics. "We have observed increased demand
for these natural products in the cosmetics market," a company
spokeswoman said. The additional price premium to be gained by
using certified organic crops for the extracts has not gone unnoticed.
Even more profitably, these companies are eager to patent technology
to solve the processing dilemmas of organic products.
quantifying the potential ingredient market for organic growers
are harder to come by. Chemical Market Reporter noted the growth
of the market for botanical extracts: "Botanical extracts,
including herbals that double as food additives or nutritional
supplements, are harvesting some of the fastest sales gains among
cosmetic chemical products." "We have observed increased
demand for these natural products in the cosmetics market,"
says Ute Griesback, leader of the botanicals project at Cognis's
care chemicals business. "Green tea, aloe vera, chamomile
and red clover are the front runners in this area."
care manufacturers confirm that their use of organic ingredients
has increased dramatically in recent years. Mark Egide says three
years ago his company, Avalon, was buying "less than $10,000
in certified organic. In 2002, we will spend a million dollars
on certified organic ingredients." He sees that the demand
for ingredients has helped build a market for organic botanicals
and ultimately made the organic body care ideal more accessible.
"Some of the key ingredients have come down in price significantly
as our volumes have gone up dramatically. Our increase in price
has taken care of itself somewhat."
to OCA's complaint against the industry's and Avalon's Fraudulent
Cosmetic Regulatory Failings
Teenage folklore holds that nail polish is sold in diminutive
bottles because the stuff is so toxic it wouldn't be legal in
a bigger one, not because nails are small. The folklore is right.
The composition of many personal care products includes toxic,
carcinogenic and endocrine-disrupting materials. The Food and
Drug Administration (FDA) classifies cosmetics into 13 categories,
but it does not regulate them. According to the FDA, "A cosmetic
manufacturer may use any ingredient or raw material and market
the final product without government approval." Seven toxins
are banned, but many more known toxins and carcinogens are allowed
in cosmetic formulations. Less than one percent of the FDA's budget
is for skin care.
body care products, like antiperspirants and deodorants, are actually
classified as over-the-counter drugs, not cosmetics,because they
affect the function of the body. The health implications of body
care products are numerous but, "The cosmetics industry is
self regulated," says Gay Timmons, an organic inspector and
broker. "As long as you don't kill anybody, you can formulate
and produce a product."
1994 article in Science cites "reports on the discovery of
toxic face powder in a 3,000-year-old tomb in a Mycenean cemetery
in Greece as proof that lead has been eroding European women's
skin for at least the same period of time." Toxic makeup
is nothing new, and at this rate, organic makeup doesn't look
likely to be the end of it, as the same dangerous chemicals are
allowed in organic personal care products. But recent cosmetic
safety scares could be used to market organic personal care as
a safer alternative.
approximately six pounds of skin each human carries around is
a porous membrane one-twentieth of an inch thick, through which
numerous environmental toxins enter the body. Skin is a "more
significant gateway for toxins into your body than what you eat,"
says organic personal care product manufacturer Diana Kaye of
TerrEssentials. Traces of 700 different chemicals can be found
in the body. Positive Health cites a study showing 500 chemicals
present in a single fat cell of a healthy 30-year-old British
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found
that 884 chemicals used in personal care products and cosmetics
are known to be toxic. A Canadian study in Pediatric Drugs cites
cosmetic and personal care products as the most common cause of
unintentional poisonings of kids under six.
July, three consumer protection groups released independent test
results showing 52 of 72 consumer products like hair spray, perfume,
nail polish, food wrap and medical supplies contained a dangerous
class of endocrine-disrupting industrial solvents, called phthalates.
are a softener mostly found in products like fragrances and nail
polish and not in organic personal care products. But the media
attention to phthalates prompted worried consumers to look for
something safer. Other toxic chemicals are being used in organic
personal care. One of the most common and notorious cosmetic toxins
is sodium laurel sulfate. It has not been reviewed for organic
processing yet may be in organically labeled body care products.
toxin used in organic personal care is methyl paraben. The majority
of skin lotions and creams use methyl paraben as a preservative.
In the past, worries over methyl paraben have centered on its
low systemic toxicity, which can cause allergic reactions. Now
methyl-, ethyl-, propyl- and butylparaben have been found to be
weakly estrogenic. The European Union has asked the European industry
trade group about the implications for breast cancer. While parabens
are not potent estrogens, continuous topical exposure may pose
a danger. In fact, because the liver metabolizes most ingested
paraben, an article by Dr. Elizabeth Smith suggests you'd be better
off drinking the stuff than regularly slathering it on your skin.
None of this stops consumers from looking to organic personal
care products as a sop for worries about cosmetic materials. Numerous
health claims are already being made on behalf of these products.
poison your skin when you can use natural remedies free from toxic
chemicals" asks Hilary Magazine, a web-based publication
with some discrete and some not-so-discrete product endorsements
peppered throughout. "Would you jeopardize your safety and
the safety of your loved ones to save a mere couple of dollars
by purchasing generic personal care products at a local drugstore?
I hope not. I support and believe in all natural, organic personal
care products (90-day money back guarantee). Discover for yourself!"
is widely accepted in the industry that consumers buy organic
beauty products under the illusion that the products are held
to organic food standards. Despite this awareness, the word organic
is used on the labels of products that do include toxic processing
materials and which do not comply with the NOP.
may not realize that the organic label claims on nonfood products
doesn't necessarily represent the same standards as they do on
foods," acknowledged the organic trade publication Natural
Food Merchandiser in March.
do the terms 'natural' and 'organic' take more of a bruising than
in the cosmetic industry," according to New Vegetarian and
Natural Health. "Most cosmetics companies utilizing the term
'organic' on their label are using the chemistry definition of
organic-meaning a compound that contains carbon... By using this
definition they could say that a toxic petrochemical preservative
called methyl paraben is 'organic' because it was formed by leaves
that rotted over thousands of years to become oil."
now, it's really a free for all," says Kerin Franklin of
Frontier Natural Brand, the manufacturer of the Aura Cacia line
of personal care products.
most organic advocates are hesitant to call a spade a spade. The
network of certifiers, ingredient reviewers and consultants who
monitor the marketplace on behalf of organic farmers and producers,
after all, have a monetary interest in courting, not castigating,
potential organic manufacturers. English organic certifier, the
Soil Association, refers delicately to "a marketplace currently
saturated with unverified claims" and many products with
"unsubstantiated or questionable organic claims."
is a great deal of abuse in the supplement and personal care industry
right now," says Gay Timmons, "well, not a great deal,
but some. I think it is a problem for growers if the word organic
doesn't maintain its meaning."
one wants to stand up to these folks," agrees Brian Baker,
a materials reviewer for the Organic Materials Review Institute
(OMRI). (OMRI does not have a policy on personal care products.)
"Their products are full of synthetic ingredients that are
prohibited. Cosmetics are not subject to the same scrutiny as
Doesn't the NOP Already Take Care of This?
No one seems more confused about whether the National Organic
Program regulates these products, or at least their organic claims,
than the NOP.
in the preamble to the 1990 Organic Food Production Act, the NOP's
authorizing legislation, says it is superceded by the Food, Drugs
and Cosmetics Act, the authorizing legislation of the FDA. Until
May of this year, both the organic and personal care industries
assumed the NOP would not effect the products. But on May 5, the
NOP released a statement that appears to claim these products
fall under its scope. Since then, an industry driven lobbying
campaign has pressured the NOP to back off. While no new public
statement has been released by the NOP, the industry itself feels
confident that it will not fall under the purview of the National
Organic Program or be held accountable to the labeling laws come
this October. Fortunately, a few manufacturers are working to
bring their labels into compliance and a handful are releasing
formulations meeting the materials requirements of the NOP.
here in the Department of Agriculture deal with food and other
products. Personal care products, I would suggest that you check
with the FDA," remarks NOP public affairs specialist George
Chartier confidently. "I was talking to people higher up
in the USDA just the other day and they were confirming that those
products would not be covered."
about the NOP's May 5 statement, Chartier seems less sure, "I
am almost certain that we are not involved with personal care.
Let me just triple check... I'll call you back." The NOP
statement reads, in part, "The regulations under the NOP
apply to the following products, classes of products and production
systems:... cosmetics, body care products..."
have researched the question of personal care products and the
NOP and this is how it was explained to me," Chartier continues.
"[The NOP] is not seeking at this time to focus the organic
program on cosmetics. The Department of Agriculture focuses its
energy on agricultural products. If a company wants to have the
word 'organic' on its packaging it needs to find a certifying
agent that is willing to work with the company."
seemed unaware that many such uncertified products making organic
claims already exist.
the NOP's confusion, the personal care sector believes it has
exempted itself from the NOP final rule via the fiat power of
its trade group-the personal care task force of the Organic Trade
Association (OTA). Some manufacturers even seem unaware that there
is a difference between the regulatory body overseeing organics
and the OTA.
don't think anyone is going to change the labels until there is
an actual rule," says Avalon's CEO Mark Egide. "The
October 21 statement only applies to food. I don't believe the
initial statement that they wanted compliance will apply. The
OTA has asked for an 18-month extension of that timeline... There
is no enforceable rule or regulation at this time for non-food
expectation is that you will continue to see labels of all different
kinds on the shelf for awhile," says OTA task force head
small companies like Australian manufacturer Organic Formulations
have already changed their labels. But Production Manager, Joe
Borkovic acknowledges, "I don't know any manufacturers who
are seriously addressing the problems with complying and labeling.
We really haven't seen a movement in that direction. Either we
have underestimated the actuality of it being implemented or no
one is worried."
Behind the scenes the personal care task force has attempted to
heavily influence NOP policy regarding personal care products.
The task force has already drafted its own personal care standards
that it would very much like to see used as the basis of the NOP's.
While the task force is composed of a wide variety of experts
from all sizes of industry and private certifiers, its track record
is mixed and the draft standards have tended to err on the side
of industrial ease over organic integrity. If not monitored carefully
by farmers and consumers, the task force may become a force forestalling
NOP regulations for organic foods establish four categories of
organic claims. The least significant category, products that
use less than 70 percent organic ingredients, cannot make organic
claims on the primary display panel. The personal care task force
first tried to dilute these categories for organic personal care
products by lowering the threshold for "made with organic"
to 50 percent. It has since given up the effort, but a number
of member manufacturers continue to label products with less than
70 percent organic ingredients as "made with organic."
The task force also considered the proposition that water should
be included in the calculation of organic ingredient percentages
for personal care products. Some manufacturers argued that a water
infusion of certified organic ingredients was a single ingredient
and must be weighed and calculated as one. This position is cheerfully
acknowledged as ridiculous now, and English organic certifier,
the Soil Association, has since required that certified components
of all water-based ingredients be measured separately. The draft
task force standards, however, still recommend that hydrosols
with a small percentage of certified extracts be factored at their
weight with water.
task force had recommended for the purpose of calculating the
percentage of organic ingredients, a hydrosol is considered a
single ingredient. Also the task force determined that water infusions
cannot be counted as a single ingredient," says task force
head Phil Margolis.
Donna Bayliss, founder of the task force, manufactures all of
the lavender hydrosols that are at the foundation of many Avalon
Organic Botanicals "made with organic" products. Avalon
Organic Botanicals web page claims the task force "standards
specifically address the issue of 'blends' and 'infusions,' which
are simply organic ingredients (typically herbs) blended in added
water." Though hydrosols are also water-based dilutions,
Avalon's organic products include "certified lavender hydrosol"
in their calculation of ingredient percentages.
guarantee that the certified organic percentage on all our product
labels is measured strictly with undiluted ingredients, and does
not include water, water-herbal blends, or aqua herbal infusions.
We use only 100 percent certified organic ingredients, including
our certified organic lavender hyrosol, aloe vera, plant oils,
herbal extracts." While the task force and Avalon may be
holding to a fine distinction between a hydrosol and a water-based
ingredient, the exclusion of water is carefully laid out in the
NOP's labeling guidelines. Any personal care product companies
that do include water in their calculations of organic ingredients
in products entering the stream of US commerce after October 21
will be flouting the labeling guidelines of the National Organic
to OCA's complaint against the industry's and Avalon's Fraudulent
Non Food Materials
Some organic personal care manufacturers argue that their products
cannot be held to the NOP standards because it is not possible
to make the products with only the ingredients allowed for food
consultant Peter Murray suggested that non food ingredients would
need to be allowed for personal care products, saying a materials
list of "all the ingredients that make things like shampoo
and soap functional, preservatives, carriers, solvents and things
of that nature" should be created. "Shampoo is not much
good if it doesn't wash the hair, you can't just do that with
water and detergent and herbs." In particular, Murray cited
ingredients "that provide functionality" like "soil
removal with surfactants" as necessary. The most common surfactant
in shampoo is sodium lauryl sulfate.
says FDA regulations require certain functional ingredients like
preservatives. To his way of thinking, the law requires the use
of chemicals. "Just like in food, you can't violate an additional
regulation just to be organic."
Tom Hutcheson made it clear that the trade group would lean towards
lenience in its proposed personal care product standards, suggesting
to Natural Foods Merchandiser that, "The biggest hurdle for
the organic personal care niche will be to convince the overall
organic industry that the synthetics it uses in processing products
are as necessary as the allowable synthetics in food."
are one of the key ingredients that manufacturers claim are necessary
to produce shelf-stable organic products.
article in Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition explains,
"Every chemical cosmetic product on the market is formulated
for shelf life of over three years. Therefore, each contains a
large amount of preservatives (usually four synthetic parabens)
to prevent spoilage. These are cellular toxins; otherwise, they
wouldn't kill microbes. They penetrate the skin to a certain extent
and many have been shown to cause allergic reactions and dermatitis."
you buy a lotion it may sit on your shelf for years," says
broker Gay Timmons. "You would not buy any kind of food,
open it and then leave it on your shelf for two or three years.
That is what people do with cosmetics. That requires a rather
important and profound use of preservatives because of the pathogen
concerns and fungal concerns. How do you balance that preservative
system need with an organic claim? Can we even do it?"
notion that the FDA regulations require non-organic food ingredients
is more specious than the claim that the FDA regulates the cosmetics
industry. Materials expert Baker, who was briefly part of the
OTA task force, points out that the use of preservatives for shelf
stability may not be compatible with consumer expectations of
the meaning of organic. "Consumers who buy organic expect
their food to be freshŠ without preservatives. Perhaps one
solution is to not claim that something is shelf stable and just
put instructions to refrigerate. You'd have to talk to the FDA.
This is an assertion that I've heard repeated, but no one has
been able to give me a referenceto the legislation or the agency.
Even if people are required by law to use prohibited substances
to make a product that does not entitle them to label it organic,"
says Baker, reversing Murray's assertion that "You can't
violate an additional regulation just to be organic."
some companies claim organic personal care products can't be made
without synthetic preservatives or with all-organic ingredients,
others say they are already doing it. Joe
Borkovic of Australia's Organic Formualtions says his family makes
certified organic blends and personal care products without synthetics.
American producer TerrEssentials also claims
to make some personal care products with organic ingredients.
Ollin of Lakon Herbals wrote in June for the Organic Consumers
Association: "Many large health and beauty aide manufacturers
have begun lobbying USDA in an effort to convince officials that
personal care products cannot be made without the use of synthetic
additives or that botanical preparations or herbal essential oil
cannot be extracted without the use of toxic solvents such as
hexane or petrolŠ This attempt to lower the standards is
not compelled by the science of botanical formulations."
certifier the Soil Association released its own "developmental"
personal care standards in April, saying, "Our guiding principles
have been to ensure a maximum proportion of organic ingredients,
minimum processing and clear labeling." In explaining that
their standards included non-food materials, the Soil Association
commented, "We have kept as far as possible to the same principles
that relate to organic food, where a very limited list of additives
and preservatives are permitted. Many beauty products are complex
and require complicated processes. For safety and hygiene reasons,
it is sensible to allow some preservatives."
"Preserving" the Environment
Organic Formualtion's Joe Borkovic puts
the question of synthetic and natural in perspective, "I
think it is possible to create products with completely natural
ingredients, not just naturally derived. The real question is
are we using principles of sustainability. If we continue to use
ingredients that are harmful to ourselves and the natural environment,
we will continue to denigrate this earth. We can find options
and need to find options to move in a direction where we can mitigate
some of the harm for what we are doing to the earth."
effect of cosmetic chemicals on the environment is just beginning
to be understood. In March, a team of US Geological Survey scientists
showed that a variety of chemicals from personal care products
were among 95 wastewater contaminants found in US waterways. While
clean water efforts historically focused on obvious, point-sources
of pollution like heavy industry, personal care products and pharmaceuticals
have posed a much more insidious and serous threat to aquatic
life. Every night when the daily share of that $30 billion in
cosmetics is washed off, it is washed into the sewage system and
ultimately the waterways. An EPA report notes that these chemicals
have a devastating effect even when they are not "persistent"
because they are continuously replenished. "Their continual
infusion into the aquatic environment serves to sustain perpetual
life-cycle exposure for aquatic organisms." Similarly the
anti-fungal and anti-microbial ingredients that make personal
care products shelf-stable retain their anti-microbial and anti-fungal
properties in microbe- and fungus-rich aquatic environments. Ultimately,
the result is a double exposure for humans, who drink the chemicals
they wash down the drain in their tap water.
The final determination about allowable ingredients in organic
products lies with the NOP. The National Organic Program already
has a system in place to assess the suitability of different materials:
the technical advisory panel (TAP) review. This process has shown
itself to be highly deliberative and fairly transparent in the
past, with long and public debates at the NOSB level about controversial
materials like synthetic amino acids in livestock feed and boiler
chemicals containing volatile amines. The OTA task force is arguing
that the speed of the past TAP reviews is not sufficient to list
personal care processing materials quickly enough. The task force
claims only 150 TAP reviews have been done in the last three years
and estimates that, at the current rate, it would take many years
to evaluate the unapproved materials currently used in personal
care processing. OTA proposes that classes of materials be reviewed
under single TAPs to speed the process.
food industry had 12 years to develop the materials list, and
there are still some materials that need to be reviewed. If you
assume that every single ingredient would have to have a TAP review,
instead of categories of ingredients for personal care products,
fiber and supplements, then there are probably easily 1,000 ingredients
that need TAP review. TAP reviews have been occurring at the rate
of 50 to 75 a year," says Phil Margolis. "Categories
would be an efficacious way to provide for appropriate implementation."
the industry's desire to approve 1,000 new ingredients for organic
processing might be viewed as the problem, not the speed of the
review process. At present, there are less than 100 synthetic
materials allowed in organic production. While it might be acceptable
to approve a class of benign materials or prohibit harmful ones
in one fell swoop, many ingredients will require individual TAPs.
The recommendation for categories of TAPs could be used by the
industry to list ingredients that might not otherwise qualify
recently amended its state organic food production act to give
state regulatory agencies purview over personal care products.
If signed by the governor, the legislation will allow the California
Department of Agriculture and Health Services to enforce the NOP
as a state organic program. The law will ensure that, for Californian
consumers at least, personal care products will have to live up
to the 70 percent standard of processed organic foods.
Timmons worked on the amendments and says, "All the state
of California has done is protected consumers and farmers so far.
It is sort of the first volley."
Department of Agriculture organic program manager Ray Green explains
that the law would go into effect on January 1, 2003, "and
we would probably begin immediate enforcement, at least in terms
of educating the industry and notifying people and starting to
get them to change their formulas and change their labels."
approach makes clear that organic personal care regulations are
coming. Sooner or later, there will be a standard for processing
organic lipstick, lotion, shampoo and the like. But the strength
of those standards is still malleable.
offers body care what amounts to gold in the language of the industry
of illusion: something new. If makeup is hope in a bottle, organic
ingredients in organic makeup should be the substance of that
hope. The acceptance of natural forces implicit in the work of
an organic farm is in tension with the mission of all things "cosmetic."
"Natural products" themselves are in tension with the
nature we know of a farm. The organic landscape is a diverse patchwork
of sweeping pastures, double-stitched vegetable rows, palettes
for composting, greenhouses, barns, orchards and home. It does
not seek to force grand uniformity across the landscape through
tractor or pesticide. It does not seek to disguise disease of
the body or tame the unkempt earth with synthetic inputs and makeup.
The illusions and misconceptions at the base of cosmetics may
be irreconcilable with the transparent, uniform standards of the
National Organic Program. The NOP should begin challenging fraudulent
organic labeling claims while evaluating these questions. In one
way, organic beauty can affirm the acceptance of nature that organic
farms seek-by accepting the meaning of the word organic as legislated
by the National Organic Program and mimicking the spirit of organic
farming, which does not endlessly seek to replicate the world
in its own image.
with permission from In Good Tilth, a publication of Oregon Tilth.
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