May 14, 2013
AGORA moves to a new index site
AGORA is the Aromatherapy Global Online Research Archive. It was formed in 1998 by a group of aromatherapists who wrote articles about aromatherapy and essential oils, and was hosted at a number of different websites, including www.naturesgift.com, www.wingedseed.com, and others, with an index to all the articles hosted on a now dead site: users.erols.com/sisakson/pages/agoindex.htm (no, don’t try to go there because it is not there now).
Sometime in the middle of the last decade, the owner of the index, Suki, lost control of the index site when its host was sold and she moved to a new ISP. But mysteriously, the index continued to function and had about 2,000 entries in a Google search. It still gets 651 hits.
I was the original technical administrator of the site, although the individual host site owners did their own local administration. Over the years, as the original authors left the world of aromatherapy, many of the articles needed updating, link maintenance, and upkeep. I eventually contacted Suki to see if we could update the index page. That was when I discovered that no one had access to it. I knew that eventually it would disappear, so I captured a copy of the index and several other pages on that site to my computer. When the site died, I decided to set up a new index site. This took me some time as many other pages had to be recovered from the Web using the Wayback Machine and reformatted and moved to the new site. I actually accomplished that about a year ago, but have been too busy to actually get it publicized and correct the site links in to it that will help build it back up as a viable site. I realized last week that the aromaconnection blog’s link to AGORA had never been updated. That has now been done. So here are the links to the new site.
There is also a twitter feed @AGORAAroma where I occasionally post links to the AGORA site.
Please check out the site, link to the index page, and tweet about it. that will help improve its SEO ratings and get more people visiting it.
March 22, 2012
GM (Genetically Modified) Eucalyptus is one step closer
This is not a new story, but merely another step in the historical process of moving agriculture towards the use of GM in aromatic plants (Although this Eucalyptus is being developed for timber and not for making essential oil.)
The Institute of Science in Society reports on their website on the latest news in the saga of GM Eucalyptus approval for field testing. In an article ‘Confined’ field releases of Eucalyptus neither confined nor safe scientists at ISIS have criticized the Environmental Analysis process on grounds “uninformed prejudice and hiding crucial details”. The two Eucalyptus species (E. Grandis) and (E. urophylla) that have been hybridized and then cloned are not generally considered to be of aromatic use, but are used for timber. An American Corporation ArborGen has applied for permission to release the clone into the environment in the southeastern US to test how well their genetic modifications work. ISIS does not believe that the Environmental Assessment has adequately addressed a number of important issues. They have asked for wide circulation of their information and granted blanket permission for reproduction, so the aromaconnection is reposting the entire post here so that our readers can see for themselves some of the issues that will arise if genetically modified plants are used. A major part of the concern is the lack of transparency as well as potential safety issues.
ISIS Report 21/03/12
Please circulate widely and repost, but you must give the URL of the original and preserve all the links back to articles on our website
‘Confidential Business Information’ makes a mockery of risk assessment
An application from ArborGen has taken a sinister turn in declaring most, if not all of the genetically modified (GM) constructs in a Eucalyptus hybrid clone to be tested in environmental release ‘Confidential Business information’, thereby precluding any meaningful independent safety and environmental assessment of the GM trees, or appropriate remedial action and identification in case of harm caused to the environment and innocent bystanders. The USDA/ APHIS (United States Department of Agriculture/Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service) has yet again made a highly flawed Environmental Assessment (EA) on the proposed release, dismissing every issue on safety largely on a priori assumptions and in the absence of real data .
ArborGen, LLC, based in Summerville, South Carolina, has applied for the ‘confined’ environmental release of the clone EH1 of a Eucalyptus grandis × Eucalyptus urophylla hybrid genetically modified with various constructs at six locations encompassing a total of 14.7 acres in the States of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina . (As of September 2011, ArborGen is growing a total of approximately 67 acres of GM trees on 18 of the 32 permitted locations.) Five of the locations for the current release already have active APHIS permits for GM trees granted previously. The sixth site in South Carolina has been listed as a holding site for GM trees in previous APHIS permits and notifications, and is a new location for the release of GM Eucalyptus. ArborGen is requesting that trees be allowed to flower at four locations in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. At two locations in South Carolina, ArborGen has requested to release trees in containers and have indicated they will not allow the trees to flower.
The stated purpose of the field release is to assess the effectiveness of different gene constructs intended to confer cold tolerance, to alter lignin biosynthesis, to alter growth rate, along with testing the efficacy of the barnase gene designed to alter fertility. In addition, the trees have been engineered with a selectable marker that confers resistance to the antibiotic kanamycin. With the exception of the C-Repeat Binding Factor (CBF) gene (see later), the barnase gene, and nptII gene, all genes are claimed as Confidential Business Information (CBI), even though they are different constructs from those in trees previously permitted for environmental releases by APHIS.
The designation of the majority of transgenic modifications CBI certainly prevents any rational, independent evaluation of the impact of those genes and the GM Eucalyptus on the environment, and on human and animal health. Unfortunately, USDA does not appear to have a mechanism for identifying and discarding frivolous CBI designations. The avalanche of CBI designations of transgenic crop and tree modifications suggests that the designation is being used to avoid doing proper risk assessment and also making it impossible for independent risk assessments that could otherwise be done; and in addition, prevent the detection of adverse side effects due to the modifications, which would also make it impossible to take appropriate remedial action. This is clearly unacceptable for protection of public health and the environment. The USDA should open the CBI designations to independent adjudication.
A number of risks were assessed in a perfunctory fashion and dismissed based to varying degrees on a priori assumptions in the absence of real data from dedicated investigations.
Alteration in susceptibility to diseases or insects
This was dismissed largely on basis of the statement in ArborGen’s application that “none of the genes being engineered into the Eucalyptus plants are expected to alter the susceptibility of the transgenic Eucalyptus plants to disease of insect damage.”
We have previously pointed out that reducing lignin in trees would make them more susceptible to attack by insects and pathogens (see  Low Lignin GM Trees and Forage Crops, SiS 23).
Risks from transgenes
Kanamycin resistance Risks from the kanamycin resistance gene is dismissed even though we have pointed out that kanamycin is still in clinical use and also kanamycin resistance cross-reacts with new antibiotics  (Kanamycin Still Used and Cross-Reacts with New Antibiotics, ISIS Report).
Cold tolerance C-Repeat Binding Factor (CBF) genes are transcription factors belonging to the AP2/EREBP family of DNA binding proteins, which recognize a cold- and drought-responsive DNA regulatory sequence designated the C-repeat (CRT)/dehydration-responsive element (DRE), found in the promoter regions of many cold-inducible genes. When CBF genes are overpressed constitutively, as when placed under the control of the CaMV 35S promoter, it was associated with stunting, reduced flowering and lack of tuber production in potatoes. However, when the CBF gene was placed under the control of a cold-induced promoter, rd29A, it increased tolerance to freezing while restoring growth and tuber production to wild-type levels. The GM Eucalyptus trees tested have the CBF gene under the control of a cold inducible promoter, which causes the gene to be expressed only when cold, and hence “not expected to produce any toxic substance and is not expected to alter the characteristics of the engineered plants”.
This large assumption is far from justified as the Eucalyptus version, EguCBF1, when over expressed, not only results in cold tolerance, but also increased water retention, higher oil gland density and wax deposition, and over expression of anthocyanin pigments . The gene network influenced by CBF gene modification produces highly pleiotropic effects. But there does not appear to have been any investigation on the production of unintended metabolites, proteins, or nuclei acids in the modified trees, all of which could have health and environmental impacts.
Gene for altered fertility We have commented on the dangers of the barnase gene on numerous previous occasions, most recently in 2008  USDA FONSI for Transgenic Poplars Absurd & Dangerous, SiS 38). It is a well-known cytotoxic protein that breaks down RNA. Because they are from a soil bacterium, and unrelated to any mammalian RNAses, they are not susceptible to eukaryotic RNAse inhibitors. Consequently, they are highly toxic, and are actually being engineered currently as a means of killing cancer cells . But USDA has dismissed the dangers of this gene in the current EA as in previous EAs. This is unconscionable. Although the barnase is being used to prevent pollen formation, this is not 100 effective, and many beneficial insects and other wild-life could well be affected.
Apart from the above genes, the genes for altered lignin (3 of them), genes for altered growth (4), non-coding sequences (undisclosed number derived from plants and plant pathogens), were all not mentioned or explicitly not disclosed under CBI, and consequently, not risk assessed at all before stating that they are not expected to pose any risks.
Mode of transformation and hazards of horizontal gene transfer
One aspect that needs to be highlighted is the mode of transformation of the GM Eucalyptus involved Agrobacterium. This is a serious unresolved hazard in genetic modification that we have drawn attention to for years, most recently in 2011  Scientists Discover New Route forGM-gene 'Escape' (SiS 50). Research commissioned by the UK Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) in the 1990s had already revealed that it is very difficult, if not impossible to get rid of the Agrobacterium vector used in creating the transgenic plant. The bacterium is likely to remain dormant even after the transgenic plants are transplanted into the soil. Hence, it is expected to facilitate horizontal gene transfer, in the first instance, to wild-type Agrobacterium in the soil, and further afield, to other bacteria and fungi in the soil. It now transpires that Agrobacterium can enlarge their host range to infect other species and exchange genes with them through hormones produced at the site of plant wounds ( Scientists Discover New Route for GM-gene 'Escape', SiS 50).
The applicant has indicated that they are not aware of any commercial plantings of sexually compatible Eucalyptus species within 1 000 meters of the proposed test plot location at any of these sites. Therefore, based upon the limited distance that viable pollen is likely to occur outside a tree stand, it is deemed highly unlikely that gene flow would occur outside of the confined field test sites at these locations. An Australian study, however, found that remnant populations of Eucalyptus were connected by pollen dispersal to pollen sources up to 1.94 kilometers away .
It is by now obvious that transgenes can also spread horizontally to all species interacting with the trees and pollen, in the air, in the soil and in the water, as we have repeatedly pointed out to regulators . Needless to say, horizontal gene transfer was dismissed.
Deadly yeast in Eucalyptus
Cryptococcus neoformans gattii is a yeast pathogen hosted by a variety of Eucalyptus species as well as other tree species. It causes systemic fungal infections in humans, leading to fungal meningitis and death. C. neoformans gattii has been found on a number of Eucalyptus hosts, some being grown in commercial plantations and imported and exported for ornamental use. People have contracted and died from cryptococcosis in India, Africa, Taiwan, South America and California. C. neoformans gattii infections are found particularly in AIDS patients due to their weakened immune systems. Infections with this fungus are rare in those with fully functioning immune systems. For this reason, C. neoformans gattii is sometimes referred to as an opportunistic fungus. There was an outbreak of cryptococcal disease on the eastern part of Vancouver Island, British Columbia in 1999. The disease was previously only known to occur in tropical or semi-tropical climates. The risk that these field trials will result in a higher incidence of the fungus in the US and thereby pose a risk to human health is considered negligible for the following reasons. First, there is not a clear association between E. grandis or E. urophylla and C. gattii. Second, there is no reason to believe that the genetic modification of the hybrids will alter the association of the trees with C. gattii. Third, the scale of the field tests is miniscule compared to the vast expanses of native trees that could potentially harbour the pathogen .
But there is already evidence among forest or urban trees that Eucalyptus species are homes for the deadly yeast. Furthermore, there is no vast expanse of native species in the US that are homes for the toxic yeast, according to the peer reviewed scientific publications [11-13]. The deadly yeast should have been studied in the transgenic trees rather than being groundlessly and a priori dismissed by USDA.
Issues raised in previous submissions on transgenic Eucalyptus still unresolved
The Institute of Science in Society previously submitted several briefs objecting to environmental releases of GM Eucalyptus, and dealing with other issues in more detail, such as the alteration in susceptibility to disease or insects , the potential of the Eucalyptus to harbour plant pests, the kanamycin resistance selectable marker gene, the barnase gene, genes for altered lignin, and the deadly yeast C. gattii [14-15] Field Testing Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus: Environment Assessment Still Inadequate, SiS 46, GM Eucalyptus Environmental Assessment Irregular, SiS 35]. None of the issues we raised have been properly addressed, let alone resolved.
We can only repeat our call  for a Moratorium on all GM Trees and Ban on GM Forest Trees (SiS 35).
- DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [Docket No. APHIS–2011–0130] ArborGen, LLC; Availability of an Environmental Assessment for Controlled Release of a Genetically Engineered Eucalyptus Hybrid Federal Register Vol. 77, No. 28 Friday, February 10, 2012 Notices 7123.
- Eck C. Permit application 11-052-101rm received from ArborGen Field testing of genetically engineered Eucalyptus grandis X Eucalyptus urophylla Draft Environmental Assessment December 6, 2011 http://www.aphis.usda.gov/brs/aphisdocs/11_052101rm_pea.pdf
- Cummins J. Low lignin GM trees and forage crops. Science in Society 23, 38-39, 2004.
- Cummins J. Kanamycin still used and cross-reacts with new antibiotics. ISIS report, 27 May 2001, http://www.i-sis.org.uk/kanomycin.php
- Navarro M, Ayax C, Martinez Y, Laur J, El Kayal W, Marque C, Teulières C. Two EguCBF1 genes overexpressed in Eucalyptus display a different impact on stress tolerance and plant development. Plant Biotechnol J 2011, 9(1), 50-63.
- Cummins J and Ho MW. USDA FONSI for transgenic poplars absurd & dangerous. Science in Society 38, 40-41, 2008.
- Ulyanova V, Vershinina V and Ilinskaya O. Barnase and binase: twins with distinct fates. The FEBS Journal 2011, 3633-43.
- Ho MW. Scientists discover new route for GM-gene ‘escape’. Science in Society 50, 14-16, 2011.
- Knight CJ, Bailey AM, Foster GD. Investigating Agrobacterium-mediated transformation of Verticillium albo-atrum on plant surfaces. PLOS ONE 2010, 5(10): e13684. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013684
- Sampson JF, Byrne M. Outcrossing between an agroforestry plantation and remnant native populations of Eucalyptus loxophleba. Mol Ecol 2008, 17(11), 2769-81.
- Chen M, Liao WQ, Wu SX, Yao ZR, Pan WH, Liao Y. Taxonomic analysis of cryptococcus species complex strain S8012 revealed Cryptococcus gattii with high heterogeneity on the genetics. Chin Med J (Engl). 2011, 124(13), 2051-6.
- Chowdhary A, Randhawa HS, Boekhout T, Hagen F, Klaassen CH, Meis JF. Temperate climate niche for Cryptococcus gattii in Northern Europe. Emerg Infect Dis. 2012, 18(1), 172-4. doi: 10.3201/eid1801.111190
- Crous PW, Groenewald JZ, Shivas RG, Edwards J, Seifert KA, Alfenas AC, Alfenas RF, Burgess TI, Carnegie AJ, Hardy GE, Hiscock N, Hüberli D, Jung T, Louis-Seize G, Okada G, Pereira OL, Stukely MJ, Wang W, White GP, Young AJ, McTaggart AR, Pascoe IG, Porter IJ, Quaedvlieg W. Persoonia 2011, 26, 108-56.
- Cummins J. Field testing genetically Engineered Eucalyptus: rnvironment assessment still inadequate. Science in Society 46, 36, 2010.
- Cummins J and Ho MW. GM eucalyptus environmental assessment irregular. Science in Society 35, 50, 2007.
- Cummins J and Ho MW. Moratorium on all GM trees and ban on forest trees. Science in Society 35, 32-34, 2007.
June 07, 2011
Agro Forestry Tree Database
If you are looking for detailed information about essential oils and related products that are derived from trees, you need to know about the Agro Forestry Tree Database. I’ve added it to our list of databases on the right sidebar.
I’ve linked to the home page, which has search facilities so you can type in the name of a plant and get detailed information about Species identity, Ecology and Distribution, Propagation and management, functional uses, pests and diseases, additional information, a bibliography, and images of the tree.
The information provided is much more detailed than the summarized data that appears in Wikipedia, and probably has much more authority.
The web site also provides a downloadable copy of the data base and and downloadable desktop tool to map the range of the plants.
December 21, 2009
The Palm Oil Atrocity
Originally posted on La Vida Locadore (cross posted with permission) This is a timely post from outside the aromatic community to introduce Cropwatch’s recently updated List of Endangered and Threatened plants which is now in its 17th upgrade UPDATE: Tony has updated the List of Endangered and Threatened plants to include more information about the Palm Oil Situation. (search for Palm Oil in the pdf file—it’s about the third mention).
Sun Dec 20, 2009 at 10:41:56 AM PST
I loathe to use a Ballardian catchword in the title but it conveys the sheer insanity and the destructive practices that the palm oil business does to our planet (if you have five minutes to spare please peruse the preceding linked pdf)
Now, thankfully (and quite possibly because of "gentle pressure"), we have the globe's two biggest food firms, Nestlé and Kraft, who have launched internal investigations after a Greenpeace report claimed both purchase palm oil from Indonesian company PT Smart whose parent group Sinar Mas allegedly engages in widespread illegal deforestation and peatland clearance in Indonesia.
In the UK, Marks & Spencer have also made new pledges about their use of sustainable palm oil, ramping up to using only certified oil in products by 2015. But, what is certified oil?
Palm oil is used in a broad range of consumer food and toiletries products, but its production has caused massive deforestation in South Asia, placing livelihoods of humans and habitats of forest animals like orangutans under severe threat.
The growth of Indonesia's palm oil industry is blamed for turning the country into the world's third-largest emitter of CO2 after China and the United States. Additionally Indonesia also has the fastest rate of deforestation, losing an area the size of Wales every year (every year more than 8.5 million hectares of tropical rainforests are being razed worldwide.)
According to Grist deforestation is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in developing countries, amounting to roughly 20 percent of overall emissions. 20%! The issue was also one of the key issues debated at the Copenhagen climate change summit.
Under the draft text of the rules, known as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), oil palm plantations created by clearing rainforests would qualify for payments from a new scheme in which rich countries would pay developing countries for storing carbon in trees.
The Jakarta Times reported that Unilever has also decided to suspend the annual contract worth US$32.5 million after it obtained photographic evidence of Sinar Mas clearing protected rainforests, including reserves for Indonesia's endangered orangutan population.
"We have received very serious allegations against Sinar Mas and we had no choice but to suspend future purchases from them," Unilever's vice-president for communications, Gavin Neath, told The Times. Sinar Mas's actions break Indonesian law and highlight how membership of the RSPO alone is not sufficient proof of a company's environmental credentials, alleges Greenpeace. A Unilever spokesperson told FoodNavigator.com: "The Greenpeace claims about (PT SMART) breaking RSPO guidelines are too serious for us to ignore."
What's the benefit of Palm oil? It is a form of vegetable oil derived from the oil palm tree (Elais guineensis) mostly produced on plantations in the tropics, notably in South East Asia. In every supermarket shelves you will find that at least 10% of all products are made from palm oil: frying oil, biscuits, chips, chocolate, instant noodles, ice cream, cakes, mayonnaise and so much more, the list is very long.
It does not stop there. Broken down to form derivative products, it is also used in soaps, shampoo, cosmetics and detergents and in the metal and leather industries. Palm kernel meal, which is extracted from the same plant, is used as livestock feed.
Here are a few examples of the questions you might ask yourself: what links breakfast margarine with the repression of indigenous people in Indonesia? Were your leather shoes made at the expense of the rainforests? What do crisps and biscuits have to do with the enforced displacement of rural populations?
"Around three-quarters of the world's oil palm is grown in Indonesia and Malaysia where much of the recent expansion of the industry has been onto peatland and into tropical rainforest," according to Unilever's website. "The clearance and burning of South-East Asia's peat forests release 2bn tonnes of greenhouse gases every year. According to some estimates, deforestation in Indonesia alone accounts for 4 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions - making it the third-highest emitter behind the US and China."
However the company believes the link between the cultivation of oil palm and climate change can be broken by creating a market that is sustainable and certified. Read my lips: sustainable palm oil is simply snake oil in a clever disguise.
Many manufacturers and retailers are using palm oil in great quantities to stimulate supply and demand regardless of its huge environmental impact in South Asia, where forests have been cleared to make way for more plantations. The devastation has displaced both humans and animals that live in forest regions, and makes a big contribution to carbon emissions.
The WWF has now graded 25 major users of palm oil in Europe (world's largest consumer), to see how much of the available "sustainable" palm oil they are using.
"The top scoring companies have shown what's possible, with some buying fairly substantial quantities but now it's a question of whether the majority will follow," Adam Harrison, WWF's senior policy officer for food and agriculture. "If they do, it will transform the market, giving producers the confidence to grow more sustainable palm oil. If they don't, there will be grave consequences for the environment."
Low-scoring retailers included Aldi, Waitrose, Boots, Morrisons, Co-op and Tesco. While no company achieved the maximum 29 points, amongst the highest scorers were Sainsbury's, Marks and Spencer, Cadbury and Nestle.
The publication of the scorecard follows an announcement from Nestle this week that it will use only sustainable palm oil by 2015. But as I said above: sustainable palm oil may not be sustainable after all. You might like to read what Friends of the Earth have to say on the matter:
After a complain from Friends of the Earth International the UK advertising watchdog has ruled that claiming palm oil is "sustainably produced" is false advertising.The link is posted above.
Palm Oil names, what to look out for on the labels:
Sodium Laureth Sulphate (Can also be from coconut)
Sodium Lauryl Sulphates (can also be from ricinus oil)
Sodium dodecyl Sulphate (SDS or NaDS)
Palm Oil Kernel
Stearic Acid (may also come from other sources, but not likely in today’s environment – Rob)
Chemicals which contain palm oil:
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate
Sodium lauryl sulfoacetate (coconut and/or palm)
Hydrated palm glycerides
Sodium isostearoyl lactylaye (derived from vegetable stearic acid)
Cetyl palmitate and octyl palmitate (and anything with palmitate at the end)
November 05, 2009
Notes & News
A new lemongrass variety “suwarna” has been developed by the Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants to address drought conditions with a limited amount of planting material released in Uttar Pradesh. This new variety will produce about 200 kg of oil per hectare as compared to normal varieties that produce about 100-124 kg per hectare. This is an attempt to diversify the income of farmers, particularly those in drought-affected areas.
The International Aloe Science Council presents a scientific primer on aloe. IASC has assembled a comprehensive document exploring the different varieties of aloe, their health properties, cultivation techniques and more. Download this e-book to learn about:
- commonly traded aloe species primarily used in the nutrition industry, and key components;
- cultivation considerations;
- aloe vera as a market commodity, including pricing information;
- a detailed appendix on aloe species; and
- details on requirements for organic certification.
The International Fragrance Association (IFRA) has appointed Aurore Boudet scientific and regulatory affairs manager. She will focus on the management and implementation of the IFRA code of practice, IFRA standards, and the compliance program.
The Research Institute for Fragrance Materials (RIFM) has formed an environmental adjunct group to support the expert panel’s efforts in environmental assessment of fragrance materials and development of IFRA Environmental Standard. The group includes Michael McLachlan, professor of analytical environmental chemistry, Stockholm University, Sweden, and Beate Escher, deputy director of the national research centre for environmental toxicology, University of Queensland, Australia. These appointments bring expertise in advising RIFM, especially in the areas of environmental fate and bioaccumulation.
We at aromaconnection want to remind our community to support an outstanding nonprofit effort: United Aromatherapy Effort (UAE), headed up by Sylla Sheppard-Hanger, was founded in 2001 to support emergency and disaster relief workers by providing rejuvenating aromatherapy and massage services during long and arduous rescue efforts after 9-11. The group continues to solicit aromatherapy supplies and monetary donations to provide support to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. We urge you to visit the UAE website to learn how you can contribute.
Posted by Blogmistress on November 5, 2009 in Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Oil Crops, Organizations, Regulatory Issues, Research, Science, Trade Issues | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack
September 20, 2009
Does Jojoba Oil Contain Myristic Acid?
Jojoba Oil or Wax from Simmondsia chinensis is claimed on several thousand web sites to contain Myristic Acid, but I have found no evidence that it is present in more than a trace amount. I began looking into this while researching Jojoba oil for Samara Botane’s new website (still a work in progress). When I started looking into it (via Wikipedia—not necessarily a good source) and a variety of other sources, I found that things are somewhat confusing. This article reveals the sordid truth.
Note for the chemistry impaired: The naming conventions for fatty acids are somewhat confusing, with many different names often used for the same acid. To reduce the confusion factor, it has become a convention to refer to a fatty acid by a C followed by a two part number with a colon in between denoting the number of carbon atoms and the number of double or triple bonds, e.g. C14:0 is myristic acid which has 14 carbon atoms and no double or triple bonds. Monounsaturated acids have one double bond e.g. C18:1 oleic acid, and polyunsaturated acids have multiple double bonds e.g. C18:2 is linoleic acid and C18:3 is linolenic acid.
An Ester consists of an acid and an alcohol connected into a single compound, but apparently when identified by MSGC, the two components show up as separate peaks.
Jojoba Oil is a liquid wax produced from the seed of Simmondsia chinensis, a shrub native to the Southwestern US and Northern Mexico. According to Wikipedia, it is a mixture of long chain wax esters, 36 to 46 carbon atoms. It is liquid at room temperature, which is why it is called a liquid wax, or an oil—even though it is not an oil. The long chain esters consist of a fatty acid that is attached to an alcohol by an ester bond. What this means, apparently, is that jojoba oil can appear to be constituted of fatty acids and fatty acids as well as the fatty ester that it is actually made up of. Note that this particular chemical makeup appears to be unique to jojoba, although it has some characteristics similar to human sebum and whale oil, which is one of the reasons that it is valued in the cosmetics industry.
Although as we shall see, the claims vary, the principle fatty acids in Jojoba wax according to Wikipedia are Eicosenoic C20:0 (66-71%), Docosanoic C22:0(14-20%) and Oleic C18:1 (10-13%). Price (1999) counts it up differently, with Saturated fatty acids palmitic C16:0 (11%), stearic C18:0 (71%), arachidic C20:0 (14%); monounsaturates oleic C18:1 (6.7%) and curiously not mentioning myristic acid at all in his Principal Constituents table on p. 85.
Myristic Acid is also called tetradecanoic acid or C14:0. It is classified as a medium chain fatty acid because it has 14 carbon atoms and it is a Saturated fatty acid because it has no double or triple bonds. It is named after the nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) where it was originally isolated, It is also found in palm oil, coconut oil, butter fat, and spermacetin, the crystallized fraction of oil from the sperm whale. Note that Wikipedia, the source for the above information, doesn’t mention jojoba.
Since Price didn’t mention myristic acid in his table of Principal Constituents, I was curious as to why he stated on p. 86 that jojoba “contains myristic acid which is an antiinflammatory (sic) agent . . .”. To find out I did a Google search on “Jojoba”, “Myristic Acid” and to my amazement got 57,100 hits. Admittedly, just because these two terms occur in the same webpage doesn’t mean they are actually connected, but browsing through the first 20-40 hits revealed they they all were connected, with statements like “It contains myristic acid which also has an anti-inflammatory action”, “Jojoba also contains myristic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties”, “Organic jojoba contains a natural anti-inflammatory called myristic acid”, all of which were clearly referring to jojoba. I added the term “anti-inflammatory” to my search and now got 2,190 hits.
Of course most of the top level hits were from commercial sites trying to sell jojoba oil and apparently not going beyond reading p. 86 in Price. About 50 hits down, I started getting into some books that I thought might reveal the truth. I’m not going to provide a complete list here, but suffice it to say that several supposedly authoritative books are getting crossed off my list of sources. I eventually jumped ahead to 300 or more, and here I started getting a higher number of hits that listed ingredients or had several oils on one page and were not claiming myristic acid in jojoba—but there were still a number of the same old claims. Finally, after 626 hits, Google stopped delivering new stuff, so I gave up on that search phrase, and started to try to find something more authoritative. I added “MSGC” or “Composition” to my search.
The first thing I found a table that showed the constituents of jojoba by chain length, starting with C16 and going up to C24 (Kleiman 1990). No C14 here.
Next, I found the original study from 1975 (National Academy of Sciences, 1975). Table 2 shows the Alcohol/Acid Structures of Jojoba Oil Determined by Gas Chromatography, Mass Spectrometry, and Ozonolysis. This should be an authorative source! And it mentions C14:0 as well as C12:0 and C16:0. All three were found in “trace” amounts. Effectively, no C14:0 here.
OK, what about Wisniak’s book about Jojoba? Table 1-26 is the same table as the 1975 NAS study and Spencer et al, but “trace” is defined as 0.01-0.05%. Not much C14:0 here either. Table 1-27 looks at the Jojoba Oil Wax Ester Composition and breaks down the long chain esters by their Alcohol/acid combination. No C14 in the table, as would be expected. Table 1-28 looks at the Composition of Fatty Acid Methyl Esters and Fatty Alcohol Acetates Derived from Jojoba Wax. Again C12, C14, and C15 acids are only in trace quantities.
Here’s another without C14:
Triglyceride compounds isolated from jojoba seed oil by column chromatography were composed predominantly of C18′ C20′ C22′ and C24 n−9 fatty acids with minor amounts of saturated C16. (van Boven et al Abstract)
The results wax indicated that the main constituents in jojoba wax were various kinds of wax esters, namely eicosenyl octadecenoate (C20:1-C18:1)(1), eicosenyl directly, eicosenoate (C20:1-C20:1)(II), docosenyl eicosenoate (C22:1-C20:1)(III), eicosenyl docosenoate (C20:1-C22:1)(IV) and tetracosenyl eiosenoate (C24:1-C20:1)(V). . . . The concentrations of the wax esters I, II and III, in jojoba wax were 5.5, 21.4 and 37.8%, respectively. (Tada et al)
Finally, I did find one curious document on the Internet (Simon, 2006)that possibly needs to be given some credence and which includes myristic acid among the constituents of Jojoba Oil. It has no documented sources so it’s not clear where the information came from. It is a “Technical Memorandum” written for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) listing secondary Constituents of Interest (COI) for substances used or produced at the Dow Chemical Plant in Midland, Michigan. This list was to be used to identify pollutants in the nearby rivers that might have originated in the plant. The purpose of this document was to resolve discrepancies in their data base, and one of the entries is (in a table entitled CASE NARRATIVE – Multi-Compound Listings):
|456||Jojoba Ester – High Internal Phase (Myristic Acid, Palmetic (sic) Acid, Oleic Acid, Eicosenic Acid, Erucic Acid, Nervonic Acid, Eiconsenol, Docosenol, Tetracosenol)||DOW RESOLVED. Multi-compound listing individual components are [544-63-8] myristic acid, (remainder of items omitted here – rs)|
The number in  brackets is the CAS number of myristic acid.
Based on the studies referenced above, there are no appreciable amounts of myristic acid in jojoba oil. This doesn’t necessarily mean that there isn’t genetic or geographic variation (Busson-Breysse et al), but I haven’t found any evidence that that has occurred. If anyone is to make a valid claim that there is C14:0 in jojoba, they need to present their proof. In the meantime, Internet vendors should stop making claims that Jojoba Oil contains Myristic Acid.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jojoba_oil Accessed 9/19/2009
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myristic_acid Accessed 9/19/2009
Busson-Breysse J., M.Farines, J.Soulier, “Jojoba wax: Its esters and some of its minor components” in Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 71 (1994) Abstract accessed 9/20/2009.
Clark, Sue Essential chemistry for safe aromatherapy, Elsevier, 2002 Accessed in Google Books 9/19/2009
Kleiman, R “Chemistry of New industrial Oilseed Crops” http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/proceedings1990/v1-196.html#Table%205 accessed 9/19/2009
National Academy of Sciences, 1975. Jojoba: Feasibility for Cultivation on Indian Reservations in the Sonoran Desert Region. Accessed on Google Books.
Price, Len, Carrier Oils for Aromatherapy & Massage, Third Edition. Stratford-upon-Avon: Riverhead Press, 1999.
Simon, PB and Simon, PM “Technical Memorandum to Mr. Allan Taylor, MDEQ Waste and Hazardous Materials Division” , Dec 1, 2006. PDF Accessed 9/20/2009.
Spencer, G.F, RD Plattner and T. Miwa, “Jojoba Oil Analysis by High Pressure Liquid Chromatography and Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry” Journal of the American Oil Chemists Society, 1977 Accessed 9/20/2009.
Tada, Atsuko, Zhe-Long Jin, Naoki Sugimoto, Kyoko Sato, Takeshi Yamazaki, Kenichi Tanamoto “Analysis of the constituents in jojoba wax used as a food additive by LC/MS/MS,” Shokuhin Eiseigaku Zasshi. 2005 Oct ;46 (5):198-204 16305174 (P,S,G,E,B) Abstract accessed 9/20/2009
Van Boven M., RA Holser, M , Cokelaere, E. Decuypere, C Goveaerts and J. Lemy, “Characterization of triglycerides isolated from jojoba oil,” Journal of the American Oil Chemists’ Society, 77 (2000) Abstract accessed 9/20/2009.
Wisniak, J., The Chemistry and technology of jojoba oil. American Oil Chemists Society, Accessed on Google Books
March 25, 2009
Call for Support for Firefighters/Victims in Australia
United Aromatherapy Effort is helping to mobilize efforts and donations to help wildfire relief efforts throughout Australia. Any supplies or monetary donations would be welcome.
March 21, 2009 NEWS: CALL TO ACTION
Once again the amazing power of the internet, and all our interconnections have enabled us to network this call to Action (feel free to forward).
We are mobilizing to help out with the teams already working for the Wildfire Relief Effort. The Australian Practitioners Emergency Response Network (APERN) exists to help frontline emergency workers fulfill their duties in an emergency/critical incident and to support volunteers and victims in a caring and compassionate way. The blog: http://therapistsunite.blogspot.com/2009/03/apern-bulletin-tuesday-10th-march-2009.html. It emerged from the events of Black Saturday, the 8th February, 2009 when extensive bush fires in resulted in over 200 deaths. APERN is still in its formation stages and they are all volunteers. In addition Hands on Health Australia or HOHA http://www.handsonhealth.com.au/ aims to assist communities to improve the delivery of health and other services to marginalized people, utilizing the resource of community volunteers. They are looking at setting up 7 community clinics. At present some clinics are running and others are still in progress. Some communities around Whittlesea are only just returning to their homes to begin the rebuilding stage. There are 7000 people still homeless and living in tents, having survived one of the worst tragedies. (News links on the UAE site if you need a reminder.)
Supplies (respiratory blends, relaxation, clinic supplies like towels/base oils, etc) can be sent to Tuesday Browell (firstname.lastname@example.org) 424 High Street, Echuca, Victoria Australia. 3564 mobile ph is.0428342957.
In addition Ron Guba/Essential Therapeutics in Melbourne is collection donations for oil supplies if you want to purchase local supplies toward the Relief effort: visit http://www.essentialtherapeutics.com.au he will see your purchase is mixed into respiratory blends, or other useful products and delivered via the above organizations. Ultrasonic diffusers would be great for the seven clinics if someone wants to contribute those, contact Sheriar Irani in Sydney www.subtleenergies.com.au
This is a great quick way we can help rather than sending our own supplies.
Thank you in advance for any support as we mobilize globally to help out when we can. Please feel free to forward this to any other lists or organizations, and other caring aromatic friends.
March 07, 2009
Sassafras oil distillers help destroy Cambodian forest
Copyright © Tony Burfield March 2009.
Illicit manufacturers of MDA, MDEA & MDMA (ecstasy) can utilise safrole from safrole-rich essential oils such as sassafras oil and “brown” camphor oil as starter materials (precursors). Therefore safrole & sassafras oils are designated as controlled substances in many countries, and safrole is listed as a Table 1 precursor under the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances. Since sassafras trees (Sassafras albidum (Nutt.) Nees) grow wild in the Eastern parts of the US, the Drugs Enforcement Agency has made safrole a List 1 substance under the under the Chemical Diversion and Trafficking Act, and it is unlawful to trade safrole & safrole-rich substances for illicit drug-manufacturing purposes. There are legitimate uses for safrole however - these include the manufacture of the aroma chemical heliotropin (‘cherry pie’) and the knock-down insecticide piperonyl butoxide. Interestingly, there is a tradition of drinking sassafras tea, of using sassafras as in ingredient in sarsaparilla drinks, and making root beer from the inner bark of young sassafras tree roots. Dried ground sassafras leaves, in the form of aromatic filè powder, is also used in cooking, being stirred into traditional Southern dishes just before serving. The FDA made sassafras a prohibited ingredient for food & beverages in 1976, since it is a weak experimental animal carcinogen (rats, mice) - Daimon et al. (1998). It has to be said that there is some resistance amongst many US citizens in accepting that safrole is actually the heptacarcinogen it is made out to be. The latest EFFA Code of Practice for example lists safrole both as carcinogen category 2, and as a mutagen category 3m. It is fair to day that the amount of evidence for safrole’s role in human carcinogenicity is scanty, even at this point in time, although there is very limited evidence of oral cancers from long-term safrole exposure from betel-leaf and areca-nut chewing practices (Chen et al. 1999). So the traditions of sassafras tea drinking (often made from the sassafras tree’s twigs & leaves) still persists in places, such as is still found within N. American Indian communities in Eastern parts of Canada. In the Eastern US, many citizens regard the right to use sassafras as part of their cultural inheritance, although any commercial root beer listing sassafras as an ingredient is now made with safrole-free sassafras extract.
N. American sassafras essential oil has a sweet-spicy peppery odour, with an underlying woodiness; the dry-out on a perfumers strip being invariably spicy and woody. Safrole has a cleaner, candy-like odour and its previous uses in perfumery included deployment in re-odourant formulae & soaps. In flavourings safrole was used as an ingredient to flavour medicinal products and confectionery. IFRA prohibits the addition of safrole to fragrances as such, and limits the safrole content of perfumes formulated with safrole-containing essential oils (basil, nutmeg, sassafras, cinnamon leaf etc.) to 0.01% for both skin contact & non-skin contact fragrances. This causes a potential problem for utilization of many safrole-containing fragrance ingredients, such as nutmeg butter; safrole-free versions of various aromatic nutmeg ingredients are commercially available, but often lack the spicy-sweetness and body of the authentic versions.
In South America, the safrole-rich chemotype of Brazilian sassafras tree Ocotea pretiosa (Nees) Mez. has been over-exploited as a safrole-source (there is also a methyl eugenol chemotype). As early as 1966 Mors and Rizzini (Mors & Rizzine 1966) noted that O. pretosia was becoming scarce in Santa Catarina due to uncontrolled exploitation and the natural slow growth of the tree. So Brazil went from being a major supplier of sassafras oil in the ‘sixties, to being a minor supplier in the nineties. Vietnam took over the role of being the major supplier, felling the tree Cinnamomum parthenoxylon (Jack) Meisn. to distill the roots to produce hundreds of tons of sassafras oil Vietnamese annually. Cropwatch (2007) declared the tree as now being critically endangered in Northern & Central Vietnam. Other geographic sources of safrole include Yunnan, China, where C. parthenoxylon, Sassafras tzumu & fractions of C. camphora are utilized for domestic piperonyl butoxide & heliotropin manufacture.
In S.W. Cambodia, sassafras trees (‘Mreah Prew Phnom’) Cinnamomum parthenoxylon are especially found amongst the 2 million ha. of forest within the Cardamom mountains. On-going investigations of illegal oil-producing activity were started in 2004 by the Flora & Fauna International Group. In a recent move, made together with help from the Ministry of the Environment, illegal distilleries were discovered within the Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary, run by Vietnamese syndicates, producing sassafras oil from the shredded roots & trunk of the Mreah Prew Phnom trees
Rangers from the Phnom Sankos Wildlife Sanctuary prepare to dismantle illicit sassafras oil still. Credit D. Bradfield – FFI. (used with permission.)
Subsequent action by the Royal Cambodian Armed forces dismantled 2 factories and led to 2 arrests. Tim Wood, FFI Field Co-ordinator at the Phnom Samkos Sanctuary is quoted as expressing grave concern that the harvesting of these trees is destroying the fragile eco-system habitats within the sanctuary. The FFI press release describes the pollution of streams used for cooling water for the distillation, and mentions the abstraction of fuel wood to drive the distillation process. Local peoples fear that this rate of abstraction could push the forest & Mreah Prew Phnom trees to the brink of extinction within 5 years. As a mark of their success, the 25th Feb 2009 FFI press release also mentions the fact that in June 2008, 33 tons of illicitly produced sassafras oil were destroyed, and the 2009 FFI raids reported above have to be put in context – since previously in 2006 there were some 75 operating stills in the Western Cardamom Mountains. Now however, the FFI are apparently facing funding problems and need economic help to continue their work.
Chen C.-L., Chi C.-W., Chang K.-W., & Liu T.-Y. (1999) "Safrole-like DNA adducts in oral tissue from oral cancer patients with a betel quid chewing history." Carcinogenesis 20(12), 2331 - 2334
Daimon H., Sawada S, Asakura S. & Sagami F. (1998) "In vivo genotoxicity and DNA adduct levels in the liver of rats treated with safrole." Carcinogenesis 19, 141-146.
Flora & Fauna International 25th Feb 2009. “‘Ecstasy oil’ distilleries raided in Cambodia’s Cardamom Mountains.” Media Release, Phnom Penh, Cambridge.
IRIN –UN Office for Humanitarian Affairs “Cambodia: Ecstasy tabs are destroying the forest wilderness” – see http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=79340
Mors & Rizzini (1966) Useful Plants of Brazil pub. Holden & Day, 1966.
Segelman A.B., et al (1976). "Sassafras and herb tea: potential health hazards." JAMA 236(5),477.
February 08, 2009
The Senate affects Aromatics Stimulus
I took a look at the list of items cut from the Stimulus package by the Senate compromise team. Several items that will be cut may affect aromatics in the US. These include:
- $100 million cut from Farm Service Agency Modernization
- $50 million cut from Cooperative State Resources, Education, or Extension
- $65 million for watershed rehabilitation
What wasn’t indicated on the cut list whether there would be any funds remaining in these categories. What is clear that these cuts could potentially affect farming and farm services that might support aromatic crops. On the other hand, the proportion which might have trickled down to help aromatic crop farmers is probably small.
Final passage of the stimulus package in the Senate probably won’t come until Tuesday. There will then have to be a Conference Committee with the House to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills. It’s possible that some of these items might be put back in.
If you have any feelings one way or the other on this bill, you should contact your Senators or Congressperson.
January 26, 2009
Cropwatch Newsletter Jan 2009 Published
The most recent Cropwatch Newsletter Jan 2009 [pdf] has been sent to subscribers and posted on the Cropwatch website. There is also an html format post elsewhere on the web, and several of the articles in it were previously posted on this blog, so we won’t do more than summarize it.
The Newsletter starts out with an Editorial on the theme 2008: A Bad Year for Natural Aromatic Ingredients. A Good Year for Industry Consultants and Ingredient Clerks, in which Tony discusses the REACH Process, Corporate Influence over IFRA and its affect on the use of Natural Products, and the effects of increasing market demand for natural ingredients on the sustainability of the natural environment.
The articles included in the Newsletter are:
1. The REACH Pre-registration Exercise – an Autopsy
2. Sandalwood – A Critical View of Developments
3. IFRA Gives Up Supporting Two More Natural Aromatics:
Opoponax & Styrax Next for the Chop
4. Frankincense – A Brief Catch-Up
5. The Art of Natural Perfumery: Under Threat from Natural &
Organic Cosmetic Certifying Organisations?
6. The Oakmoss & Treemoss Saga – Slight Return
7. GM Fragrance Anyone? – Hopefully No Takers
8. IFRA Workshop - Allergy Prevalence in Fragrance, November
4, 2008, Brussels, Belgium
9. More on Ylang-ylang oil
Articles 2, 3 and 4 are updated and slightly expanded from articles previously published on this blog. Click on the number for links to the posts here: 2 3 4 however you may want to read the PDF version to get the latest information.
Article 5 on the Art of Natural Perfumery is a detailed analysis and response to the various attempts by various organizations to develop Organic and Natural Standards to control the ingredients used. This topic has been previously discussed on this blog; you can find the articles filed under the category Standards. Tony takes several of the standards to task and closes his article with:
We could review proposals from other organisations, but we think you get the idea ….. both natural & organic cosmetics are a long way from living up to the promise of their descriptions. The lack of common sense is also worrying – for example, banning added synthetics such as UV filters (one thing that Cropwatch would allow) which as well as increasing the shelf-life of the product, arguably
help protect against the risk of solar/UV-induced skin cancer. This ban, taken with other considerations, means that evolving versions of natural & organic cosmetics may be in danger of becoming considerably less safe than conventional cosmetics.
Regarding natural fragrances, it can be guessed that many of us who have been involved in the teaching, promotion & development of the art of Natural Perfumery over the past several years may be getting a bit hot under the collar when whole classes of raw natural aromatic ingredients are suddenly declared “not natural” by the self-proclaimed officials of certifying organisations, who don’t appear have experience across all the areas they are proposing to regulate. The exclusion of concretes, absolutes & resinoids from an inventory of natural aromatics for fragrances intended for natural cosmetics may well pander to the more chemophobic amongst cosmetics customers. But the banning of petrochemical solvents cannot be justified on health grounds relating to supposedly harmful amounts of solvent residues that remain in these materials – since there is no health risk. We should also mention that there is a move to allow solvent extraction in the form of allowing CO2 extracts and bio-ethanol. The protagonists of these proposals do not make clear how they are going to determine whether the CO2 used in such processes is natural (i.e. produced by fermentation of natural materials etc.), or how they will propose to police the matter. Cropwatch’s guess is that (a) they haven’t thought about it and (b) they can’t guarantee it (thanks to Daniel Joulain for bringing this to our attention). The
proposed allowable use of bio-ethanol is welcome, but does not substitute for the elimination of other solvents.
We can clearly see that attempts by these certifying organisations to redefine natural cosmetics, and natural cosmetic/aromatic ingredients clearly bow to the business interests of the major international cosmetic companies and their customers, who are the potential cash-cows that these organisations are trying to milk. The multinational’s interests in the natural personal care sector has been plain enough for all to see – L’Oréal bought out The Body Shop, Estée Lauder did the same with Aveda & Clarins took over Kibio, just to mention three. That doesn’t mean to say that those of us working with natural products now have to dance to a tune played by the big corporates, or the organisations that suck up to them. We feel that many of the above-cited proposals & guidelines will be rejected by those purists who have been involved with natural perfumery to its
present point. You probably do not need Cropwatch to tell you that many experienced older perfumers have been found surplus to requirements lately by some of the Aroma Giants, probably because they are too expensive compared with younger perfumers. Many of these more experienced professionals are now working independently, making a living by creating natural perfumes. It is
unlikely, we feel, that this group will accept many of the definitions currently proposed by these Natural & Organic Cosmetic Certifying Organisations, and hopefully this group will become a growing influence in this area, for better values, independent of big industry’s requirements.
The Oakmoss/Treemoss article updates an article in this blog several months ago and announces that a detailed review of the lichens is planned for publication in Flavour and Fragrance Journal by mid-February 2009.
The GM Fragrance article discusses the progress? made in the floral products industry to increase the fragrance of flowers through GMO manipulation and the possibility that this will be a back door entry into the aromatics industry in spite of public opposition (especially in the EU) to Genetic Modification. The article contains several references and additional reading.
Brief comments on the IFRA workshop on Allergy Prevalence in Fragrance suggest a possible out for IFRA on the current over-regulation of the European cosmetics industry with a report that
sensitization to fragrance ingredients has decreased considerably over the years, and for some weak allergens, the rate of incidence is now so low that several thousands of subjects now need to be tested
to obtain one genuinely positive result.
The Ylang Ylang article is an update and correction to comments made in the previous Cropwatch Newsletter (Sept 2008) having to do with coniferyl benzoate in (or not in) ylang-ylang oil. Tony goes on to clarify the current status of the Ylang market.
All in all, a useful and interesting issue. Recommended reading for a variety of topics and interests.
Posted by Rob on January 26, 2009 in Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Oil Crops, Perfumery, Safety/Toxicity, Standards, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack