FDA Bans 19 Antimicrobial Soap Ingredients

So many things went through my mind after the initial and loud cheer when I first read this announcement.

The first thing was my happiness about the act. Then I got scared because…the FDA has resisted this action since the 1970s and this ingredient list effects so many products (almost any soap that makes an “antibacterial claim”) that – there had to be serious pushback from the industry. What looming catastrophe caused them to finally do this? What sort of danger are we in?

Many of the banned ingredients are already banned in the EU and Canada. They are suspected hormone disruptors, bio-accumulative and known aquatic pollutants.

So now what?

All I can say is, if you know anything about DDT, it was banned in the 60s and we are still dealing with the long-term effects of this powerful environmental toxin and pollutant. This new FDA ban currently only applies to soap; these ingredients are also used in toothpaste, mouthwash, and other products.

So – FDA – now what?

Palm Done Right™

A Model For All Producers Part 2

 

This is personal: I have kids and I want grandkids and they should be able to breath and travel and love the world they live it. In order to clean up some of the mess that we’ve made to date, everything on the planet should be made from renewable resources using environmentally benign methods. Everything should be safe and replaceable without destroying the planet. So I am thrilled to be writing about Palm Done Right™.

Palm Done Right Logo

WHAT IS PALM DONE RIGHT™?

The simplest description is that Palm Done Right™ (PDR) is a model for growing and producing palm products that is not destructive.

Currently, PDR includes 130 farmers (and growing) in Ecuador plus more farmers in Sierra Leone who own their own farms and work in cooperation with Natural Habitats. Natural Habitats provides programs to improve farming methods and tools, community programs, crop collection and processing and then markets and sells the oil and oil products worldwide for these farmers. In 40 years of looking at farms, this is the only truly sustainable project I’ve ever seen with multiple growers for this type of crop.

Natural Habitats has created the Palm Done Right to help you to learn more about what they are doing. This site is also a partnering tool that will allow you to link your customers to this valuable information and to support the PDR program individually.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. I pasted below some of the pictures from my trip and short commentary. Also, go to the Palm Done Right and read a more complete story.

Join us in partnership with Natural Habitats and Palm Done Right™ and show the world how to grow and use this amazing ingredient the right way.

 

MY TRIP TO ECUADOR AND Palm Done Right

This is the first of 3 palm farms we visited - the growth on the tree trunks are epiphytes that live on the trunks and don’t seem to effect the tree’s fruit production. It was 93 degrees F and humid - like sweat through your clothes in 5 minutes humid/hot. These trees are about 20 years old and have about 5 more years before they are replaced because they get too tall to harvest. A 40 lb. bunch falling 25 ft. to the ground makes a real impact!
This is the first of 3 palm farms we visited – the growth on the tree trunks are epiphytes that live on the trunks and don’t seem to effect the tree’s fruit production. It was 93 degrees F and humid – like sweat through your clothes in 5 minutes humid/hot. These trees are about 20 years old and have about 5 more years before they are replaced because they get too tall to harvest. A 40 lb. bunch falling 25 ft. to the ground makes a real impact!
2nd farm - day 2. The trees behind this guy and his burro are about 3 years old. This is when they begin to bare fruit. The fruit contains both oil and a kernel that produces more oil. This guy will cut the ripe bunches of fruit out of the tree and these weigh about 40 lbs each. They load them into these containers on the burro or mule and bring them to the roads that wind through these hilly farms to a collection slab on the road. Trucks collect the bunches and take them to another central collection point in the town. then in a larger truck to the oil mill.
2nd farm – day 2. The trees behind this guy and his burro are about 3 years old. This is when they begin to bare fruit. The fruit contains both oil and a kernel that produces more oil. This guy will cut the ripe bunches of fruit out of the tree and these weigh about 40 lbs each. They load them into these containers on the burro or mule and bring them to the roads that wind through these hilly farms to a collection slab on the road. Trucks collect the bunches and take them to another central collection point in the town. then in a larger truck to the oil mill.
Don't these look like dinosaur toes? This is a young tree with newly growing fruit bunches coming out from the leaf base. These trees grow to about 25 feet high and the fruit always grows out like this - so as they get taller it is more a challenge to cut the bunches.
Don’t these look like dinosaur toes? This is a young tree with newly growing fruit bunches coming out from the leaf base. These trees grow to about 25 feet high and the fruit always grows out like this – so as they get taller it is more a challenge to cut the bunches.
This is the oil mill - where they produce crude oil. You are looking at the collection slab and beyond at one end of the plant.
This is the oil mill – where they produce crude oil. You are looking at the collection slab and beyond at one end of the plant.
The palm fruit bunches are loaded into these little rail cars and moved into the steam chamber. The steam loosens the fruit from the bunch. The left over plant material is burned to produce energy, the steamed bunches go into a rotating cylinder where the fruit falls out of the bunch.
The palm fruit bunches are loaded into these little rail cars and moved into the steam chamber. The steam loosens the fruit from the bunch. The left over plant material is burned to produce energy, the steamed bunches go into a rotating cylinder where the fruit falls out of the bunch.
The next pictures are from the most beautiful farm we saw – owned by an engineer and his wife - the Andrades. They have a gorgeous bamboo home with this beautiful bamboo deck where we met the owner.
These pictures are from the most beautiful farm we saw – owned by an engineer and his wife – the Andrades. They have a gorgeous bamboo home with this beautiful bamboo deck where we met the owner.
Various buildings on the property. Nice digs for an Alpaca!
Various buildings on the property. Nice digs for an Alpaca!
Can't resist a picture of this gorgeous collection of local fruit.
Can’t resist a picture of this gorgeous collection of local fruit.

 

 

 

 

Palm Done Right™ – Why Is Palm Oil Such a BIG Deal? Part 1

Facts about Palm Trees and Palm Oil Products:

  • African Palm Trees are the highest volume producer of oil per acre of any plant.
  • Both palm and coconut trees only grow in the equatorial belt (rain forest).
  • Palm trees may produce twice-as-much oil per acre or hectare as coconut trees.
  • Palm trees live for about 40 years and produce year round.
  • There is a worldwide push to reduce the use of palm oil.
  • Palm oil and coconut oil are chemically very similar.
  • 70% of all cosmetic chemicals are made using palm oil.

Now let’s connect some dots: if palm trees produce twice as much oil as coconut trees, then if people stop using palm oil, the chemical manufacturers will turn to coconut oil. Which…uses twice as much rain forest land.

Do you really want to destroy twice as much rain forest?

One proposed solution was to write the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) standards and ask all the palm producers to follow them. There are four levels to this standard – none of which really protect the people or animals that have lived on the lands for millennia nor does the standard protect the diversity of rain forest. The highest level requires that one can track their palm products back to the farm (“Identity Preserved”). Natural Habitats is certified to this level of the RSPO Standard. The lowest level is similar to a cap and trade system – one buys “RSPO” tradeable certificates. There are multiple problems with this standard and with the economics of most palm producers. Not impressed.

A better solution is to use a model that empowers individual farmers and supports a return to rain forest land diversity and economically sane production. We should also demand that governments get out of the business: right now they are giving land over wholesale to large corporations who have no concern for the people, plants or animals that have always been on this land.

There is a way to grow what we need and do it without destroying the planet.

For more on that – see our blog: Palm Done Right™ – Part 2. A description of the model developed by Natural Habitats Inc. that is being used in Ecuador and Sierra Leone to grow and process organic palm in a completely sustainable model.

Save the planet, look good doing it.

pdr_logo_website_us_4color

Non-GMO & RSPO vs. Organic Label Claims

We receive weekly requests for “Non-GMO” verification or “RSPO” (Sustainable Palm) certification. I continue to have to explain why “organic” certification is a more rigorous and legally accountable regulation and that our organic certificate includes both “Non-GMO” and “Sustainable” claims. Here are some details.

 

How the Organic Regulations Work:

Certified Organic products must meet the requirements of laws*.

These laws were proposed, revised, and fought over for 12 years and, I believe, are pretty good at protecting the environment and consumers. You buy a product that has been inspected annually (as required by law), the soil, water and air impacted by the farming portion of the supply chain is improved (as required by law), and the label on the package is approved by an accredited certifier (as required by law) protecting the consumer. If someone commits fraud they can be hauled into court and fined or jailed (it’s happened!). Additionally, in the State of California, organic operations are subject to spot inspection and testing including additional GM testing.

In the US, Canada, and the EU, these the organic regulations are almost identical and they have legal reciprocity: if it is certified to Canadian or EU Organic Regulations in Canada or an EU Country it is allowed to be sold in the US as “Organic” and the same goes for American goods sold in Canada or the EU.

 

How Non-GMO and the RSPO Labels Work:

The Standards that these two projects use are PRIVATE – a non-profit owns and implements the Standard. The Non-GMO Project, for example, has applicants fill out paperwork and, for the most part, asks them to “tell the truth” – whether they know it is true or not is a different question. They only do on-site inspections if they feel there is cause (for example if it is an ingredient made from soy or corn) so the level of scrutiny is fairly low. Many applicants use Non-GMO certification because it s easier to get than the “Organic”. “Non-GMO” does not exclude pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or synthetic food additives – it ONLY excludes GMO produced inputs .

The Non-GMO Project is a great idea in principle but, not so great in practice – they are so busy that they rarely answer the phone. Unlike the USDA-NOP, there is no transparency, no over-sight and. . .they certify things that could never, ever be from GMO crops (like water or hydrogen peroxide. Really, when was the last time you saw that hydrogen peroxide farm?). In my humble opinion, certifying “Non-GMO Water’ falls into the category of consumer deception: there is no such thing as GM water – genetic engineering happens with plant crops and some micro-organisms.

As to the RSPO palm folks – they are trying to say they are sustainable without becoming organic. Many of them are swapping carbon credit type values in order to claim that they are sustainable. Again, somewhat deceptive and neither clear nor transparent with consumers.

The only way you get guaranteed transparent information about how agricultural products are grown and processed is from certified organic producers.

 

Bottom Line:

Organic laws hold people and corporations accountable and there are fines and jail time for violators. There really are people who’ve gone to jail in the US for violating the laws under the USDA National Organic Program.

If, however, you are “certified” to the Non-GMO project or the RSPO Standard for Sustainable Palm, there is little accountability for either the Certifier or the Applicant using the label claim.

Laws governing organic prohibit the use of GM sourced inputs and define sustainability in law and require one to “improve” ones environment as part of ones “organic management plan”. Then they require you to prove that you are meeting the regulations by the way the “plan” is implemented.

Why would anyone value a Non-GMO or RSPO Cert above an Organic Certificate? Probably because they really don’t want you to look too closely at their products. Organic certification is your only assurance of enforceable environmental management and safer farming and production techniques.

If you have any questions about anything I’ve said here, please write or call. I feel passionately that consumers and the planet need regulated protection – greed, sadly, has too strong of a pull on some people and we need the force of law to protect us all. Buy organic!

 

* CFR 7, Part 205 based on the Organic Food Protection Act of 1990 plus the California Organic Products Act of 2003.

 

We Are Climate Change

On Monday, Nov. 30th over 140 nation’s leaders will sit in one room in Paris and determine the health future of ourselves, our children, and our grandchildren.

 

Many of these (mostly) men are beholden to giant corporations. While I would love it if they just did the right thing because…well, because they should! Maybe they’d at least consider the financial down side of climate change. It appears that these giant corps can’t figure out that long-term profits require healthy consumers – sick people don’t shop or drive or generate income.

 

On Saturday the 28th of Nov. in Beijing, China, air pollution was 15 times the safe level and people were told to stay inside. I can guarantee that less money was spent and the economy was severely impacted. There are 21.5 million people in that city: that is a lot of money not to be spent Mr. Corporation Guys.

 

So what the hell is wrong with these corporation guys? Why aren’t they pushing our leaders for a serious plan to reduce greenhouse gases, to increase the development and installation of alternative energy sources, greater focus on population growth, and better public transit systems? Why?

 

Solutions are available.

 

By all reports there will be no serious action plan – just a commitment to “reduce greenhouse gases”. Seems pretty lame. So I guess WE have to do the heavy lifting here.

 

Here’s my list of to dos:

1 – Lift my voice: I’m going to write one letter that asks for: support of alternative energy sources, policies regarding population control education (hello 1968), and better public transportation (and whatever else comes to me) and I am going to send the same letter to my mayor, my state representatives, the State Senator and Congressperson, and to the President. It should take 20 to 30 minutes necessary to send them all via email. Maybe I’ll mail them just to support the US Post Office – it may add 20 more minutes but the cost of clean air and the beautiful stamps are worth it.

 

2 – Encourage voters – I have never missed an opportunity to vote. I’m going to vote for people who support these ideas. And I am going to tell everyone to vote as often as possible because we have become disenfranchised and we American Citizens need to step it up. If you live here in Calif. and have relatives/friends in other states – urge them to vote!

 

3 – Walk, ride, share, whenever it is possible. I truly do envy places like NY where anyone can walk to a subway and get where they need to be. It is way cool. Why can’t we have that in the Bay Area?

 

4 – Support increased use of organic ingredients and food – agriculture creates 50% of all pollution. Organic production methods sequester carbon in the soil, clean soil, air and water and reduce the numbers of unsafe chemicals on the planet. (Note: I have no problem with safe, renewable chemicals).

 

5 – Educate myself about packaging – I cringe every time I buy something packaged in plastic (which means all the time…). Hey you disrupter guys – disrupt the packaging industry!

 

It is on us – we need to push our so-called leaders and act in our own best interest. Act. Make your own list.

 

 

 

Save the planet. Look good doing it.

Welcome

So – new physical site seemed to indicate we needed a new web site. One that I can change at will. And I will … change it as needed.

Basically – I’ll be getting rid of certain pages that seem pointless. I’ll try to keep the pricing page for small pack sizes current and I’ll keep adding posts as time allows.

Your comments are welcome (except for all those phantom web site companies who want to sell me their services – please go away).

Go out and save the planet.

FDA – Big Fun in the Little Warehouse

So…FDA came by to visit. It all went fine but most of what went on did not make sense.

First, they do not tell you what they are there for, or if they do, it is a fairly vague referral. In my case I sold a material four years ago that was fully declared as non-compliant for cosmetic OTC GMPs* but compliant with Food GMPs. A company used it in, what we all thought, was an acceptable way. There were no complaints, nothing filed with FDA. No harm, no foul.

The FDA ran a random sample on a finished product that led them to a small brand and then to a small lab and then to me.

Again, the product caused no damage to anyone (and probably never would have – this said with my physiologist hat on).

It is clear that there is really no immediate risk from the ingredient. In fact, it was imported and FDA clears all imported ingredients so they already cleared it for sale in the US. If there had been any issues, they would have shown up 24 months prior when they did the first random test. No one was hurt and FDA can’t even really say if there is a problem. They said that they are “assessing” the ingredient.

Secondly, they just kept digging. I finally made the local FDA Supervisor answer the question: “what is your authority?” I then asked her to please show me in the regulation why they were there. I shipped a duly labeled ingredient with a C of A that fully disclosed it’s characteristic – so I was compliant. I had not even changed the package it arrived to me in.

Her final answer was that she could not make me hand over any documents and that I had done nothing wrong, although she kept implying I was in the wrong in the way she cited the regulation. I did cooperate up to the point that I thought it was appropriate and that if they wanted to go back to the supplier of the suspect item, they could.

So – what is FDA doing? The vague rumor is they are looking at how organic and natural products are made and trying to come up with some “guidance.” In this case those rules will apply to safety, not whether or not the organic or natural claims are accurate or truthful. If they seriously want to do this they need to work with us, not disrupt small businesses, and pick on the smallest sector of the industry. We do pay their salary – or am I missing something?

I don’t see the FDA looking into whether or not 1, 4 Dioxins are accumulating in our water ways as a result of the millions of tons of surfactants going down drains every single day or how we can get Bisphenol A and other endocrine disruptors out of the production stream.

We sell only organic (plus three non-GMO) ingredients. The organic cosmetic industry is probably less than .005 of the total cosmetic industry – the rest of the cosmetic industry continues to put out finished products that pollute both the planet and our bodies.

So…who the hell is the FDA protecting by investigating our teeny segment of the industry?

They certainly are not protecting the people who want safer products.

*OTC-GMPs = Over the Counter Drug Good Manufacturing Practices.

What is Up with the Organic and Natural Part of the Cosmetic ISO Standard?

So
– if you read the last blog about why GMOs are bad, then this blog will make a
little more sense. I think GMOs are a threat to food security for the entire
world. How does that fit in with cosmetics?
Background:
ISO
is the Int’l Standards Organization based in Switzerland (you know those very organized Swiss). Many industries
look to ISO to set broad, clear standards for everything from how to test
bacteria to how to make a screw. It is supposed to be a fair, transparent
process. However, like all things in life that involve people, there are
agendas. The people at the table are trying to meet the expectations of
multiple players, countries, and value systems as well as trying to keep their
employers happy.
The
theory is that “anyone can participate” however it is very expensive: they move
the meetings all over the world, it takes a lot of time, and if you are a small
business, it is beyond reach. Consequently, the people on the committee serve
at the pleasure of large corporations who can afford to send people to these
locations and afford to pay them to pay attention. Current members seated at the
table include large trade associations that are funded by large manufacturers
in many cases. I would not say it is an impartial process.
The
Result of the ISO Standard Work for Organic and Natural:
If
you are in the “organic” or “natural” industry, one of the areas of concern is
how they defined these two O & N words. Most of the focus on organic goes
back to the legal definitions set by the various agricultural laws (in the US,
Japan and the EU for starters). Since we fought all those battle, that is less
of an issue than “natural”. The big showdown for this ISO Standard was: can
“natural” ingredients be made from GMO feed stock? Evidently the vote was a “yes”.
Gee whiz, what a surprise. Big companies want to sell “natural products” to
uninformed consumers who only want to trust a label.
Another
note is that the ISO Organic and Natural Cosmetic Standard has a lot of loop holes
– this is because of all of the players combined with the different laws in
different countries – plus those agendas I referred to. So there are all sorts of exceptions in the standard. We’ll see how that plays out.
Having
sat in meetings where chemist clearly do not know where their food comes from, I’m not
really surprised that many of them supported allowing GM feed stocks to be
called out as “natural” – but I disagree with them.
Fundamentally
any description of genetic engineering includes the fact that a gene from a
plant or animal is transferred into another plant. On the face of it, that is not
a natural act. Many people want it to be “natural” because they have so much money
invested. That is not a good reason to make up a false claim. Consumers
eventually figure it out.
I
think genetic engineering is important. There are probably very useful and safe
applications for it but open pollinator crops that depend on adaptation and
seed collection to improve the species are not the right candidates. They are
simply the most lucrative application that the current brand of producers could
think of at the time. Doesn’t say a lot for their creative spirit and it certainly does not
bode well for the future of transparency in labeling or for a secure food supply.
If
you have the opportunity and if you care, make your opinion known. Write an
email to the Personal Care Products Council (www.personalcarecouncil.org – lower right “contact us” button) and tell them that GMO derived
ingredients in cosmetics are not natural. Act on your principles.

Why Mono-cropped GM Food Crops are Really Bad (and Dumb)

I have really been hit or miss with this blog –
apologies. Hoping to get more regular about this.
This is a quickie blog to explain my position on
GMOs. I believe it is an issue of food security.
I guess seeing Interstellar really frightened me –
I think the possibility of our food system degrading into complete failure is
very real. Here is why:
GM crop companies have narrowed the gene pool of our food crops down to one or two varieties of seed. This is neither healthy nor smart.
Historically, farmers saved the seeds that were
most adapted, most robust and that seemed to respond best to the microclimate
in the area in which they were grown. This allowed farmers over 1000s of years to
regionally develop different survival and yield rates for different varieties
within a crop species.
The use of GMO crops has stopped farmers from saving and re-planting adapted and adaptable seeds. GMO seeds are mules – they cannot reproduce nor can they adapt to things like climate change. They are “engineered” that
way.
Want a scary and real example?
From 1845 to 1852 the Irish Potato Famine caused
the deaths of over 1 million people and caused another million or more people to leave Ireland. Why
did this famine happen? Because there was only one variety of potato in Ireland
and every one depended on it. Sort of like the GM soy and corn that forms the
foundation of the US diet (and a fuel source and cosmetic ingredients and vitamins
and etc.…). Potatoes are not planted from seeds, they are, essentially, cloned. So – they had the same situation, one set of genes that was not adaptable or adapted.

We’ve actually allowed a couple of corporations to make the
gene pool so damn shallow that all it would take is one bad virus and the
American soy crop would be wiped out. Same for corn or sugar beets. 

To me this is an astonishing threat to food
security.
The whole scenario just is short-sighted. How can
scientists allow everything we know about evolution to be swept aside? Shame on
them. Remember that phrase – survival of the fittest? You need a healthy, fit gene pool for productive plants to survive. 

So – next time some one starts ranting about GMOs, on either side of the
argument, ask them, how do GM crops affect food security? And then explain the
above. It should scare some sense into a few people.