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August 30, 2007

Perfume Bay vs EBay

A new Blog, MakesNoScents.com has been started to publicize and discuss the issues involved in a trademark infringement suit by EBay against PerfumeBay, which is a leading Internet perfume retailer that has around $20 million in annual sales (a David fighting against the Ebay Goliath with $4 Billion annual revenues). The lawsuit has wended its way through the courts for several years, and an Appellate court decision is expect soon. They've posted key legal documents, with arguments, etc. on the blog.

Ordinarily we might not cover this story because the Perfume Bay is a commercial retailer of big name perfumes--and doesn't sell very many of the natural perfumes that our small industry believes in (I found 113 natural perfume items out of the 40,000 items on the site).  But in comparison with EBay, they are a little guy, just like the Natural Perfumers are compared to the big name perfume companies.

Posted by Rob on August 30, 2007 in Perfumery, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

August 28, 2007

Notes and News

  • The price of Rose oil may be increasing more due to 20% reduced production in Bulgaria because of a drought, according to a note in the Sofia Echo. Almost all of the reduced 2007 Bulgarian output has been sold. Bulgaria produces about 50% of the world's production, according to the note.
  • An article in NutraIngredients-usa.com entitled "Toxicity of essential oils questioned by Cropwatch" discusses the information presented in the recent August Cropwatch Newsletter. They also, somewhat stupidly in my opinion, point out that "some industry observers claim that there may be ulterior motives behind [campaigns calling for the increased use of natural ingredients], suggesting that the most vociferous of campaigners for the use of natural products are often involved in the naturals market, thereby profiting from their own campaigning." The reason this is a stupid argument is because the reverse is also true; those who argue against the use of natural products are usually involved in the synthetics market. It would make more sense to argue this out based on the facts and science, and not the anonymous ad hominem attacks on the participants. Just who are these "industry observers", anyway? And who are these "Industry players" they also cite? To be fair I should refrain from pointing out that based on the advertisements running on the page with the article, they may be the advertisers for the web site. The article was also published at CosmeticsDesign-Europe.
  • The previously mentioned article closes with this ironic sentence: "Furthermore, some industry players have warned against believing all of the science cited in such campaigns, stating that it may draw false conclusions and mislead consumers." It is ironic because the article cites as an example of good science the article suggesting a link between lavender and tea tree oils and abnormal breast development in young boys, which has been challenged by many in the aromatic industry, as readers of this blog will remember.

Posted by Rob on August 28, 2007 in Notes and News, Oil Crops, Regulatory Issues, Research | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 16, 2007

Notes and News

  • The Montreal Gazette reports on lavender growing in Quebec.  Blue Lavende is a major tourist attraction in the Stanstead region, about 100 miles se of Montreal.
  • A long and detailed article from Alternet speculates that the cause of Colony Collapse Disorder may be that "the bees [are] simply being worked to death." Based on numerous interviews with beekeepers, it is suggested, among other reasons, that too many hives, particularly from the commercial pollination industry, may be one of the causes.  I remember that when I was keeping bees over 40 years ago that the spacing of apiaries was strictly regulated, and there were also limits on the number of hives in an apiary. The commercial apiarists that have hundreds of hives that they transport around the country may exceed the "carrying capacity" of the natural environment. The article goes into a number of other suggestions for the causes.
  • Another article in the July 2007 Discover Magazine looks at research being done by scientists who are trying to find out the causes of Colony Collapse Disorder. A number of theories are being investigated; some were not on the original lists discussed earlier in the blogs and on this blog.
  • A note on thedailygreen reports that some members of the CCD Working Group have submitted a research paper to a major peer-reviewed journal suggesting that a virus has been identified that may contribute to CCD. Because of the peer review process, little information will be available until the article is published.

Posted by Rob on August 16, 2007 in Ecological/Cultural Sustainability, Notes and News, Oil Crops | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 10, 2007

August Cropwatch Newsletter is available

The August 2007 Cropwatch Newsletter: Toxicological Imperialism Issue has been published and distributed to subscribers, and is now posted on the www.cropwatch.org at this location (PDF). I had intended to summarize the issue here, but I couldn't live up to Tony's introduction so I'm reproducing it here to entice you to read the articles in full:

This summer ‘Toxicological Imperialism’ holiday issue covers two EU - related topics, and revamps two Cropwatch articles, which this particular Cropwatch subscriber-audience may not have previously seen before.
The Cropwatch-Perfume Foundation meeting with the EU Cosmetics Commission staff in Brussels (03-07-07) went well in spite of profound differences, and an account of the meeting is presented below in section §2.
However this event has to be set against a background where even independent consultants & regulatory affairs personnel working within the cosmetics sector are becoming increasingly perplexed (as we are) at the seemingly nonsensical ingredient restrictions drawn up by private industry-funded research organisations & professional toxicologists, who advise & forward evidence to EU cosmetics regulators. Cropwatch is worried about the ‘grooming’ of regulatory officials by powerful amalgamations such as EFFA/RIFM/IFRA – we already have enough doubts about how an independent point of view can possibly be achieved at Brussels, when ‘expert’ committees are so dependent on industryinputted information.

Returning to the EU-connected issues, the restrictions proposed for Fir, Pine & Spruce oil ingredients to be moved into Annex III of EU Cosmetics Directive 76/768 (see §2. Public Consultation document below) defy common sense, and are typical of imaginary & inappropriate risk scenarios dreamed up by safety organisation officials who have no hands-on experience of the industry, and thus how ingredients are typically used in product. Meanwhile as Cropwatch previously disclosed, professional perfumery organisations such as the BFA now require that the managing directors of member companies sign up to a document promising to  obey IFRA & EFFA CoP’s. To us, this is tantamount to a gagging order, especially  considering that increasing numbers of technical staff privately have deep reservations about the scientific validity of many IFRA Standards. Remember, that these Standards & CoP’s are not legal requirements. Remember too, that IFRA’s Compliance process is now firmly in operation (see IFRA Information Letter 779) - if member companies are picked up by an appointed third–party analyst (Batelle of Geneva) producing non-IFRA perfumes in finished retailed cosmetics, they may be named & shamed, or their representatives may,…err….have to appear before an IFRA committee and thence to a public flogging (OK, we made that last bit up!). Why any fragrance company would continue to be a paying member of a research organisation which doesn’t trust its own members, & is prepared to witch-hunt them in this manner, is completely beyond us. It shows how cowed the aromaindustry has become to bullying, via an imposed regime of toxicological imperialism.

‘Fear Culture’ Amongst Perfume Buyers. The dread of media attention, & being featured in national newspapers by a chemophobic journalistic culture, causes sleepless nights for the world’s fragrance buyers. All manner of possible ills have been ascribed to perfumes in the past few years, from allergy & asthma to respiratory illness to ocular damage, raising the possibility of litigation from supposedly affected fragrance end-users. Buyers believe, because of a long history of brainwashing, that unless their fragrances comply to IFRA Standards, that they are ‘at risk’, and they put pressure on fragrance producers to ensure that their purchased fragrances comply to every possible regulatory requirement.
The ‘suitable person’ is clearly in a powerful position, appointed as he/she is by the fragrance customer to ‘sign off’ perfume safety certificates according to IFRA/EFFA, the EU Perfume Directive or whoever. He/she can clearly be able to dictate safety policy to the fragrance producer, and advise the fragrance buyer that they must adhere to the policies of certain organisations (EFFA, IFRA etc), based on their precautionary principle policies. However, these principles are so precautionary, that their ingredient restrictions severely affect the perfumery art, as the fragrance customer finds out when they receive an under-powered & flabby fragrance against a brief (as happens on many occasions). It is then the perfumer’s job to indicate to the customer that if you eliminate all ingredients carrying some undefined level of risk, you get garbage perfumes – allowing them back, especially the naturals, improves both the fragrance & its performance.
So who is in charge in the perfumery profession, exactly? The balance of power is shifting to the regulatory affairs experts, who are currently engaged in a feeding frenzy, getting their wallets nice & fat, via the toxicologist’s findings.
Cropwatch supporters & sympathisers are prominent in seeing that this is an ‘Emperors New Clothes’ situation – if the risks of using particular ingredients are negligible in many cases, as we believe they are, then the whole stack of cards can fall down, if people just apply their common sense & make independent judgments.

Back to the plot! We also feature an update of an article entitled ‘The Adulteration of Essential Oils’, since, even although originally written four years ago, it is fast becoming a set piece for teaching in medical schools & aromatherapy courses.
Further, it adds substance to an area that industry doesn’t particularly want to either admit to, or talk about. For example RIFM has a history of examining the safety of what it believes are pure essential oils 100% botanically derived from the named source, & the SCCP may use these findings to form a safety Opinion on the pure ingredient. In reality however, fragrance concerns are frequently using adulterated oils & absolutes, & so we find ourselves caught up in a silly game of pretence, because regulators have no experience of industry practices.
Finally, another re-issued but updated article (§5 below) exposing more aroma myths, is also featured. This time we explore the dubious credentials of those attention-seeking academics who have debunked aromatherapy in national newspapers, & we expose the sales-hype surrounding the concept of  ‘therapeutic essential oils’. We also explore the dogma of the ‘Functional Groups Theory’, a piece of history still being taught in many aromatherapy school &
college courses in the guise of aromatherapy science.

The full Newsletter is 53 pp.  Clearly Tony has been busy. Enjoy.

Posted by Rob on August 10, 2007 in Aromatherapy, Essential Oils/Plant Extractions, Perfumery, Regulatory Issues | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack