The Organic Consumers Association is attacking as "bogus" a new label that shoppers may see in drugstores and other places that personal care products are sold.
The Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards (OASIS) were developed by industry bigwigs like Estée Lauder, L'Oréal and Hain, according to the Organic Consumers Association, "without any input or comment period from organic consumers, organic farmers or personal care companies who have achieved USDA National Organic Program certification for the majority of their products."
The Department of Agriculture's certified-organic label is familiar on foods, and can be found on some personal care products. The OASIS standard is separate, and not endorsed by the USDA.
According to OASIS, its standards require products labeled "organic" and "made with organic" to have 85% organic content and 70% organic content, respectively.
The USDA organic standard, on the other hand, allows only foods with 95% organic ingredients to be labeled "organic," and only those with 70% organic ingredients can be labeled "made with organic." Further, the nonorganic ingredients included in USDA-certified organic products can only be used if not available in organic form.
That lower bar set by OASIS, according to the Organic Consumers Association, will allow many personal care products with nonorganic and potentially harmful substances to be labeled organic and marketed to unwitting consumers.
"The OASIS standard allows a product to be labeled outright as 'Organic' (rather than 'Made with Organic Specified Ingredients') even if it contains hydrogenated and sulfated cleansing ingredients like Sodium Lauryl Sulfate made from conventional agricultural material grown with synthetic fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and preserved with synthetic petrochemical preservatives like Ethylhexylglycerin and Phenoxyethanol," according to OCA.
"Products certified under the OASIS standard must only contain 85% organic content, which means that 'organic' water extracts and aloe vera will greenwash conventional synthetic cleansing ingredients and preservatives, since the water content of water/detergent based personal care products like bodywashes and shampoos represents around 85% of the product. The OASIS standard is not merely useless but deliberately misleading to organic consumers looking for a reliable indicator of true 'organic' product integrity in personal care.
"Organic consumers expect that cleansing ingredients in products labeled 'Organic' be made from organic not conventional agriculture, to not be hydrogenated or sulfated, and to be free from synthetic petrochemical preservatives.
"OASIS claims to be the first U.S. 'organic' beauty care standard. In actuality, the USDA National Organic Program has been certifying personal care products for over four years. This year, in particular, marks a watershed, because in 2008 there are more genuinely organic products on the market, bearing the 'USDA Organic' seal on the front label than ever before."
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