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The Organic Consumers Association (OCA), along with certified organic personal care brands Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Intelligent Nutrients, and Organic Essence, today filed a complaint with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP), requesting an investigation into the widespread and blatantly deceptive labeling practices of leading “Organic” personal care brands, in violation of USDA NOP regulations. The complaint, filed collectively on behalf of 50 million consumers of organic products, argues that products such as liquid soaps, body washes, facial cleansers, shampoos, conditioners, moisturizing lotions, lip balms, make-up and other cosmetic products produced by twelve different corporations have been advertised, labeled and marketed as “Organic” or “Organics” when, in fact, the products are not “Organic” as understood by reasonable consumers.

“Unfortunately, the hands-off regulatory approach by the USDA’s National Organic Program during the Bush years failed to protect consumers from deceptive labeling in the personal care marketplace,” said Ronnie Cummins, Executive Director of the Organic Consumers Association. While the USDA enforces strict standards for the labeling of organic food, the NOP has not enforced the organic regulations in regards to personal care. “Given the increased resources and staffing at the National Organic Program under Obama, we’re optimistic that the situation will be rectified before too much more damage is done,” added Cummins.

“Consumers who pay a premium for high-end organic products expect the main cleansing and moisturizing ingredients of a product labeled ‘Organic’ to be made from certified organic agricultural material produced on organic farms, and not from petrochemicals or pesticide and herbicide-intensive conventional farming,” explains Horst Rechelbacher, founder of Intelligent Nutrients (and founder and previous owner of Aveda Corp).

The corporations named in the complaint are The Hain Celestial Group, Inc.; Kiss My Face Corporation; YSL Beaute, Inc. (”YSL”); Giovanni Cosmetics, Inc. (”Giovanni”); Cosway Company, Inc. (”Cosway”); Country Life, LLC (”Country Life”); Szep Elet LLC (makers of Ilike Organic Skin Care); Eminence Organic Skin Care, Inc.; Physicians’ Formula Holdings, Inc. (makers of Organic Wear); Surya Nature, Inc.; Organic Bath Company, Freeman Beauty Division of pH Beauty Labs, Inc. (makers of Freeman Goodstuff Organics).

David Bronner, President of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, stated, “Yesterday we re-filed our lawsuit in federal court against culprit companies under the Lanham Act for false advertising. One way or another, the era of ripping off organic consumers in personal care will soon come to an end.”

Ellery West, founder and owner of Organic Essence adds, “The predatory marketing practices of companies that take advantage of consumer trust in the organic label are cheating not only organic consumers but also small certified companies like ourselves.”

On November 5, 2009, the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) formally recommended that the National Organic Program regulate personal care to ensure that any use of the word “organic” on a personal care product is backed up by third-party certification to USDA organic standards. Immediately following the recommendation, the OCA launched a consumer boycott of the major “Organic” cheater brands, and has produced a list of USDA certified organic brands that are true to their claims and are safe for organic consumers.

June 4, 2009–Today’s Way: More than 60% of the foods sold in American grocery stores are Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs.  And not one of them has to be labeled as such. The three biggest GMO crops grown in the United States are Soybeans, Wheat and Corn, and just try to find a processed food that doesn’t contain one, all or the other—they’re in your cereal, your tacos, your tortilla chips, your ice cream, your soda (high fructose corn syrup), your sauces, your mac ‘n cheese, your tofu, your bread, your cookies, your crackers and heck, they’re even in your energy shakes. The reasons that this franken-food has been allowed to infiltrate our food culture without sufficient research, public comment or even labeling laws are many, and far too involved for my little blog, but suffice it to say that the GMO corporate machine is big, it’s powerful, and its political influence is awesome.  Likewise, the arguments against GMOs are plentiful, but beyond the scope of this entry.  And though there are some great consumer watchdog groups fighting for labeling and other restrictions on these foods, as of now, we are bereft of meaningful change.

The one thing consumers can do is to buy organic foods.  Organic crops are grown from seeds which have not been genetically modified; in fact, they’re usually heirloom vegetables which have been adored and handed down from generation to generation, and can be saved from harvest for the next year’s crops—unlike GMOs, which have been genetically programmed to “terminate”, requiring them to be purchased each year by farmers.  Organic crops are also grown with fewer or no pesticides, fertilizers or herbicides.  The single biggest threat to organic crops are GMOs, which have already escaped into the world, mingling with natural crops despite all the claims made by the GMO corporations that they could contain them.  In turn, organics are the single biggest threat to GMOs, because the corporations cannot patent, restrict or otherwise control their growth, sale or consumption, and therefore, they cannot make money off of them.  The only way that we can preserve our right to grow and eat our own foods, and protect the biodiversity of our planet, is to vote with our dollars by buying organic foods, or better yet, growing organic gardens from organic seeds.

To learn a great deal more about GMOs, or to add your voice to the millions who want to see proper labeling and disclosure of GMOs in our foods, visit or Seeds of Deception.  Also, there’s a very interesting review on a recent paper on “The Failure of Science” from Ethicurian.

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