Observers question motives behind industry criticism

By Louise Prance

- Last updated on GMT

Campaigns against synthetically produced ingredients and
artificially developed cosmetic products are growing louder in
voice, but may sometimes there are ulterior motives behind the
arguments, industry observers claim.

Recent press reports claim that it has become apparent that many of the groups actively campaigning against cosmetic ingredients that are deemed unethical or harmful for the skin may have ulterior reasons for doing so. Concerns have surfaced regarding campaigners allegedly self-serving interests in opposing synthetic ingredients in cosmetics, in turn favouring the organic market - a more profitable industry for those involved. Biochemist,Richard Bence, has openly spoke of his concern regarding the every-day consumer's use of cosmetics and the effects that the on-going usage will have on the health and skin well being of the consumer. "We really need to start questioning the products we use on our skin and not just assume that the chemicals in them are safe.Some of the man-made compounds have been linked to cancer, while others may irritate the skin or even cause it to age prematurely." ​""We have no idea what these chemicals do when they are mixed together, the effect could be much greater than the sum of the individual parts,"​ Bence told the Daily Mirror. ​However, a political web blog, written by Tim Worstall, has highlighted that Bence allegedly contributes to the Easy Jet inflight magazine, whilst also being the founder of Being Organic, a website that exclusively sells organic cosmetic products - therefore backhandedly profiting from his influence against the use of man-made products. Independent watchdog for the aroma trade, Cropwatch, has been highly voicerferous over its concern regarding the International Fragrance Association's (IFRA) 40th​ amendment to its voluntary code of practice. Creating a petition online to boycott the amendment that the group states it will 'create unnecessary red tape' and will develop 'other widespread negative implications for all natural aromatics/essential oil users, across a range of professions'. Despite not directly benefiting from the aroma trade, Tony Burfield, co-founder of the lobby group, does have a vested interest in essential oils and is an aroma industry consultant whilst also contributing to Saponifier magazine - a magazine aimed at the handcrafted soap, toiletry and candle industry. Likewise, in the US, where such activity is much more organized, lobby group the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has been criticised in the past for issuing unfounded claims regarding its assessment of the safety of chemicals used in cosmetic products. With the US industry being far less regulated compared to Europe, the EWG has created a list of 'safe' ingredients, also highliighting which specific personal products are deemed to contain potentially hazardous ingredients. In return, the US industy has hit back against this campaing, claiming that a lot of the scientific information that the group uses is either erroneous or misleading, and that it often draws false conclusions that might mislead consumers.

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