Tony Burfield at Cropwatch and his crew are coming to a crossroad. Please find below his letter to all of us.. do take the time to read it and respond if you can... you can reach the cropwatch team firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, The Natural Perfumers Guild is taking an active role with cropwatch in pursuing this important issue. Anya is working very closely with Tony and Cropwatch http://naturalperfumersguild.blogspot.com/
For my part a risk/ benefit studies programme would greatly enhance a fair and stable look at the natural aromatics today. In fact if there was a financing in this area this would help the big players in the industry realise that we (natural aromatics ) are not just puff and wind but real players .. making a serious contribution to these regulatory procedures and having a voice.
After 4 or 5 years of continuous activity, Cropwatch has some choices to make. Do we go on the way that we have been, snapping at the ankles of those who run & regulate the aroma industry so badly, or should we 'old dogs' learn some new tricks? Cropwatch supporters, and organisations sympathetic to our aims, regularly offer us donations and advise us of potential sources of grants, to which we have always said 'no thanks, we're non-financed'. Our current thinking is that this might be a mistake, since we are limiting our potential effectiveness. .
We are certainly not asking everyone for money, but we are asking you to help us with some feedback on how a financial input could potentially help the aroma world to become a better & fairer place, so please mail us if you have any thoughts or ideas.
Our initial list of ideas to use donated funding would be:
1. To finance risk/benefit studies on natural aromatic products. This research is needed because the existing major players such as IFRA/RIFM, are set up only to investigate the risks/hazards of fragrance ingredients (but not the benefits), & EFFA can only present the safety risks of essential oils, absolutes, resinoids etc in terms of the imagined hazards of the individual contained chemicals, rather than adopting a holistic approach for the aromatic ingredient as a whole. Therefore both organisations are badly positioned to defend natural aromatic ingredients against the current avalanche of restrictive legislation. The EU Commissioners have previously declined to accept safety-data based on risk/benefit considerations, although we believe this policy to be untenable in the long-term - it is the norm in virtually every other regulatory area (biocides, agricultural chemicals, pharmaceuticals etc).
[Neither is this just a European problem. The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce have just announced draft legislation (Global Harmonisation Act 2008) intended to stimulate discussion on how to provide adequate funding and authority for the FDA to ensure the safety of the nation's food, drug, medical device and cosmetic supply in an increasingly globalised marketplace. The draft legislation already highlights several areas which will affect the fragrance industry].
2. To develop statistical data on the adverse effects of restricted & prohibited aromatic materials. This data would be a potential bombshell to blow apart the over-precautionary approaches of the cosmetic regulators and career toxicologists, who are in such a powerful position in global regulatory circles. Where this data exists (e.g. the Schnuch data on alleged allergens) it is already causing red faces. The EU Commissioner has previously indicated to Cropwatch (Brussels 2007) that this type of adverse reaction data is inadmissible as safety evidence. But if you are familiar with English history, you might recall that King Canute failed to hold back the waves and so his followers realised he was not all-powerful. So too, the regulators will not be able to ignore the fact that many restrictions on natural products are based on corporate toxicological constructs which don't manifest in the great numbers of negative health effects predicted.
3. To assist with the growing & production of useful commodities from threatened aromatic plants, for cosmetic, aromatherapeutic, flavour & medicinal outlets, in a way that benefits the poor.
4. To set up or help set up a natural aromatics products professional body, with the help of other interested parties. Already we can identify several sub-divided areas which badly need assistance: natural perfumery, the use of naturals within conventional perfumery, natural biocides, herbal drugs & medicines, aromatherapy, natural cosmetics etc.
5. The lobbying of officials & regulators. As we have seen, the more the establishment closes ranks (and its mind) to contrary & dissenting views, the more popular support we have been able to attract. In terms of numbers we are potentially a powerful force. However we have to ask ourselves whether there is any point in continuing the lobbying game. Many of the points we make go unanswered because the officials involved are not sufficiently technically adept or experienced to even understand the arguments put forward. So is it better to plough ahead with a voluntary regulatory system of our own making - at least we might have the experience, familiarity & resources to do a better job. The enormity of the task is detracting, but this is put more into perspective if sufficient funding were to be available.
6. To keep the flame of our traditional perfumery heritage alight. When we read that several major aroma corporations are training fledgling perfumers in pure synthetic perfumery, it makes us wonder if the world has gone quite mad. Once perfumers used to be creative artists with forthright temperaments, views and opinions, passionate about their art. Now, are we all to be reduced to company drones? I was related a story recently concerning a certain essential oils salesman who offered unmarked samples of real good quality Bulgarian lavender oil, and a synthetic lavender construct to a group of young perfumers at a certain megacorporation. The group preferred the artificial lavender construct because "it smelled like linalyl acetate, like its supposed to." Heaven help us! But maybe some of us 'old-timers' should organise courses & lectures to pass on the 'ancient knowledge of the art of perfumery' before it is lost forever.
OK, after 5 or so years of trying, we pretty much know what the problems facing us are - what we don't have is a consensus on the best way to solve them. Maybe you can help?
- Natural Perfume, Music and Embroidery this Trinity weave through my life. They support and give each other inspiration. It is my lifes work and profession. I think about Natural Perfume everyday. It is my reason d'etre. It brings joy, fulfills my soul. Creating beautiful perfumes from flowers, fruits and resins is superlunary. I am besotted, obsessed, deeply in love.