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This morning, while juggling the usual busy-ness of business, I took time see what I could add to the important effort being put forth by the indie personal care products industry to try to avert the potential disaster known as the H.R. 5786 Safe Cosmetics Act 2010, aggressively, if misguidedly, championed by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and others. I read the latest earnest and heartfelt blog posts from my colleagues, knowing that they too could be spending their time more productively and enjoyably than having to deal with this nonsense.  And, it is non-sense in the strictest definition, when you peel the layers to examine in more detail.  To bring you up to date with what my fellow indies are saying, this succinct recap with a sampling of quotes and links to indie opinions on Essential U will be helpful to get you up to speed if you are not already familiar with the Opposition to this flawed bill  that could result in grave unintended consequences for the indie personal care products community.

I was pleased to see that Annie Leonard’s (CFSC’s latest partner in fear mongering) disgraceful  Story of Cosmetics was outstandingly critiqued by Lee Doren, author of How the World Works, a 2009 IPPY award winning book.  How Annie can continue to drink the CFSC Kool-Aid is really amazing after this scathing well researched and factually accurate indictment.

I then girded my loins to  read the latest propaganda on Campaign for Safe Cosmetics itself,  knowing that I would find either delusion or untruth, and most probably both.  I wasn’t disappointed. So filled with vagaries, blatant spin and misstatement, where do I start?  The latest missile on the CFSC website is entitled, The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010: What It Means for Cosmetics Companies. It is, no doubt, their attempt to challenge those of  us opposing the SCA.

Under the sub-header, “How will the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 impact small businesses?”
”The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics strongly supports small businesses and we have always been major advocates for elevating the work and values of the independent businesses that are the driving force of innovation toward health and safety in the personal care products industry.”

Gee, that definition fits my business, as well as many of my colleagues standing up against the SCA, yet why do we feel the CFSC is  working against our interests, and not the “major advocate” they claim to be? Most of us were early signers to the Compact, why do we now distance ourselves?

“We are fully committed to working together with companies in our Compact for Safe Cosmetics community and others to ensure that the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 does not unfairly burden small businesses that are already committed to making the safest products possible.”

Now, this is just flat untrue. CFSC has never “worked with” their company signers in the true sense of the phrase. In my experience as a signer for several years, theirs was a top-down agenda. I was never solicited for advice, comment or approval. There was no “partnership” as implied above. There was never a visible desire for or effort towards consensus from all stakeholders.  Scrutiny from those of us in the indie personal care products industry has revealed that many, if not most, of the signers in the SFSC “community” are very small businesses most likely blissfully unaware of the potential harm that could come to them as a result of passing the Safe Cosmetics Act 2010 and its unintended consequences. Or, because these small company signers have experienced non-responsiveness and non-support from CFSC (with regard to this and other legislative issues, and grossly inaccurate toxicity claims), some companies have requested to have their company name removed and CFSC has not honored their requests. My beloved nerdy husband and partner, Rob, did a short analysis back in 2008 when we requested to be removed.  He found an approximate attrition rate of 33% of the then 733 total Compact signers. A random sampling of those companies removed found 65% of them still in business, indicating that there were voluntary requests for removal by the companies themselves for one reason or another. Hmm, I wonder how robust this list of companies would look now with all who have since requested their names removed or CFSC actual compliance with earlier requests from those companies still listed. Or those with links to nowhere (intimating that the company is probably out of business) removed and the list currently updated. Those of us who have successfully had our company name removed report that it took repeated contact and demand over a long period of time, from 6 months to over a year or more! Does this sound to you like CFSC is “fully committed to working together”? Or are those unsuspecting companies just pawns in a larger agenda?  If you are a signer, please add your personal comments below.

“There is a lot of misinformation circulating about the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 that it will "kill small businesses." This couldn’t be further from the truth and is an unfortunate misrepresentation of the facts.

Where is the substance in this statement? Do they actually ever cite or reference specific misinformation being promulgated out here to back these vague attacks? Anything with some factual teeth?  No.  We in the indie community have found and have accurately corrected gross misrepresentation of the facts by CFSC, most especially the unsubstantiated scientific facts on which they base their agenda, until we are blue in the face.  However, they continue to ignore our reasonable and factual objections and continue to up the adversarial ante, seemingly incapable of introspection or, most importantly, the desire to ascertain the real facts upon which any effective legislation must be based. Our protests fall on dead ears.  This is how they show “strong support” of and “elevate the work and values of the independent businesses that are the driving force of innovation toward health and safety in the personal care products industry.” If you are new to this issue, please refer back to the synopsis of blog posts here for background, support and veracity of my statements here.

CFSC goes on to present further distortion of the language in the bill.

“ The Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 contains specific provisions to protect and help small businesses, including:

  • Fee exemptions for small businesses with less than $1 million in annual sales.
  • Data sharing and transparency: small businesses will benefit by having access to safety assessments conducted by other cosmetics companies and suppliers that are currently kept private, and it will open up the information flow so all companies have easier access to the information that will help them make the best decisions about product safety.
  • "Producer right-to-know" provisions that will enable cosmetics companies to get full information from suppliers about toxicological data and safety information for cosmetic ingredients, including the chemicals in fragrance and preservatives.”

Looks like a Pollyanna picture of goodness and transparency, right?  They don’t tell you that registration fees IS the only burden that small business is possibly exempted from if this bill were to become law. That small business is not exempted from having the burden of reporting relatively useless ingredient minutia (sometimes trace ppm), as well as safety data for that minutia – some of which has already been researched and established by the FDA (or published by other scientific researchers) for the most part.  Data sharing?  Do you honestly believe that Johnson & Johnson or Estee Lauder are going to open their research database to every mom and pop soap company or indie personal care products manufacturer? You can only guess how many lawyers will get richer as a a result of this inclusion, if it actually exists in the final law.  “Producer right-to-know” provisions?  This part of the bill is undoubtedly aimed at the plethora of synthetic chemical producers who concoct “better living through chemistry”, manufacturing some of those long names that Annie Leonard and CFSC scare you with. Frankly, some of them scare me, too, but I am also educated enough to know that not all chemical innovation is bad for you. It is here that the sensible indie movement towards naturals meets the giants of the cosmetic industry on shared opinion.

Here is but one example of possible far-reaching and damaging unintended consequences under this “Producer right-to-know” requirements of the SCA.

We at Samara Botane purchase some essential oils from small cooperative or family distillers around the world. These are small to mid-sized producers, often family owned, who have been growing or wildcrafting aromatic plants for generations for aromatic distillation to obtain essential oils. We were introduced to these small producers in the late 80’s and early 90’s at myriad gatherings during the explosion of new aromatic plant research,  emerging aromatherapy schools and conferences around the globe to share scientific research based on the chemistry of essential oils and to explore the indigenous cultural use more in depth by those of us in the West.  These producers are not always expert at identifying the exact chemical constituents of their products, although many are much more expert now than when we first started importing. They provide the required MSDS, CAS and other legally required information for identification for international commerce, but their expertise is not always in the end “use” of their product. Nor should it be; we look them for their artistry and years of experience in the sustainable management of the crops themselves and the proper distillation for a quality essential oil.  It is up to us, the importers, and aromatherapy experts to ethically test and analyze further research  for the many safe uses. Many of these essential oils are already classed as G.R.A.S. (Generally Regarded as Safe) and are used in the food and flavor industry as well as natural skincare and personal products. You can only come to the reasonable conclusion here that unintended consequences would possibly adversely affect these small producers across the globe.

The very fact that we emerging indies exist and have been researching, developing and providing alternative, safer personal care, as well as more in-depth consumer information is a primary reason that the “biggies” are slowly moving in the direction of more natural ingredients, which we indies believe are safer.  Sure, it’s a behemoth and cumbersome industry, and there is “greenwashing”, but hey, there is also progress towards more safe and sustainable ingredients.  Without the continued good work of the indies who started the “green” revolution in personal care products, will the biggies still feel a need to manufacture better, more natural products if we aren’t there to prod and innovate them, especially if they contain natural ingredients more costly than some of their synthetic chemical counterparts?  Since the primary mission of most big corporations is to make a profit, what do you think?

Our primary business is supplying essential oils – on our retail website, to massage and aromatherapy schools and other professional institutions, hospitals and clinics, and to small personal products manufacturers. All could be adversely affected if the SCA bill becomes law, increasing the domino effect of unintended consequences.

If you purchase personal care products, or supplies from small, independent personal product companies and ingredients suppliers, please heed our voices of reason.  Read the Oppose SCA petition here and , please sign.  You will see that I am not alone, we are now approaching 2,140 signatures as I prepare to launch this missile into cyberspace.  We need many more of you to speak up on our mutual behalf.

Rant_girl_350x241l Thanks for listening and thanks for your support.

Marcia (Rant Girl)

 

The Compact for Safe Cosmetics (CFSC) is co-founded by Stacy Malkan, author of Not Just a Pretty Face, her blog which promotes her book by the same name. Stacy Malkan is the public voice and spokesperson for CFSC, who are fomenting fear that could push the evolution of sensible personal care product manufacturing into the legislative dark ages.  Under the guise of protecting Americans from cancer and other unknown maladies contracted  from using personal care products and cosmetics (currently one of the safest industries), the CFSC exhibits ignorance and short-sightedness to achieve a legislative agenda that if passed will undoubtedly result in grave unintended consequences for small, emerging personal care products companies. 

Stacy Malkan may have started out a well-meaning advocate with a sad personal experience, but she and CFSC are throwing the baby out with the bathwater.  This has been pointed out to her by those actively engaged in the personal care products industry; those who are aggressively promoting safety and efficacy while moving into the 21st century with sustainable, green ideas for the future.   Admitting that she is not a chemist, nor educated at all in cosmetic ingredient safety or formulation, Stacy Malkan is attracting a host of celebrities and others to the cause, perhaps also well meaning, who have absolutely no depth of scientific knowledge to support what they are advocating.  They primarily depend on the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database.  This database has been challenged as insufficient, erroneous, out of date and lacking clearly identified peer review by chemists, scientists and formulators in the industry, as reported here.  EWG will call foul (not their scientists, but their lobbyists) that the people who challenge the veracity of their database are employed in the industry.  Wouldn’t we expect that those of us in the industry would be educated experts in our respective positions?  Likewise, in Stacy Malkan’s “Petroleum in Cosmetics” article on Huffington Post, she references a “new CFSC report” which has been thoroughly debunked by respected fragrance chemist Tony Burfield. In that same article, she uses a totally unrelated NY Times article about cancer causing food ingredients to support her Chicken Little agenda regarding products applied topically. It now behooves Huffington Post to allow a comprehensive rebuttal.  And, although I am a great fan of Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now and allowing that she did host a debate on the issue between Stacy Malkan and John Bailey the chief scientist at the Personal Care Products Council, her coverage was not equally represented from both sides of the issue. I am hoping she will revisit with some of the colleagues I mention here.

Stacy Malkan and the CFSC are relentlessly bent on pushing for cumbersome and ineffective federal regulation that will surely thwart the emergence of eco-conscious entrepreneurs rising up with progressive ideas for sustainability, safety and efficacy in the personal care products industry.  These are the very people who are already at the forefront of innovation and research to eliminate harsh synthetic chemicals, but who are also realistic about using good science in the process.  Some of these entrepreneurs are unsuspecting company signers on the CFSC who do not know that the CFSC agenda is acting against their own interests because they have not been consulted as partners by those at CFSC, as they should be, especially in the current pursuit that could so gravely affect them.  They are being used as pawns in a deadly game, much to their possible detriment.   CFSC has been parroting the same tired old rhetoric that has failed to move the FDA Globalization act of 2008 out of committee, and more sensible minds prevailed. Their attempt to influence similar legislation at the state level in Colorado. failed as well. You can see my blog post at the time and links to other sensible personal care products companies who rallied to help defeat the Colorado bill.  CFSC is relentlessly at it again in an attempt to achieve their goal of establishing into law the  Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010, recently introduced into the House by Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.

Among those who will be adversely affected are myriad handmade soap makers, most of whom make soap like your grandmother did. The requirements to register and identify all ingredients (whether potentially toxic or not) would place an undue reporting burden on these small businesses (sometimes one or two-person operations), Even though they would be exempt from registration fees unless their business grossed $1M in annual sales under this new legislation, the cost of research and reporting could be too costly and force them to close their doors. Who wants to see this in our current economy?  This smaller segment of the indie personal care products industry now supports an active Handcrafted Soap Makers Guild, whose president had this to offer regarding the proposed SCA bill.

Colleagues Kristin Fraser Cotte and Lisa M. Rodgers founded the Personal Care Truth website which contains myriad articles and information attesting to the diligence and integrity of companies in the personal care products industry with regard to product safety and scientific clarity and veracity.  You’ll also find lively conversation between at least one lobbyist from EWG and some of my colleagues. The lobbyist is clearly factually outgunned.

You can go to Open Congress to register your support or nonsupport of the current federal bill, as well as read and rate the linked blogposts related to the bill.

Samara Botane is one of many aromatherapy companies who are passionate about safety and efficacy.  Our own website is growing with factual scientific information about essential oils and related personal care product ingredients, and we make ourselves available to anyone who wishes to learn more. In addition to this blog, which is primarily aimed at our customers, we host and contribute to aromaconnection.org, a group blog which has more scholarly information relative to the  worldwide aromatics industry.  I see the same ethical passion among my indie peers engaged in the small indie personal care products industry.  CFSC has, perhaps inadvertently, created an adversarial relationship, positioning themselves as experts when they are not and refusing to form cooperative relationships with the true experts in the industry and far more shameful,  exploiting the companies who support them by not informing them of the surely damaging consequences of their agenda.  Shame on them.   

 

by Kayla Fioravanti, reprinted with permission.

With every stand that you take there are those that will stand with you, those that will digest the information and think about it and others who will take a stand against you.  I know that is a risk that I took when I chose to publicly stand against the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and their Skin Deep Database.

Cash

I debated posting what I found after I followed the money trail, since just my mention on social media that I was doing the research lost me a customer.  I’d prefer to remain neutral, but I fear that neutrality would result in continued damage to small businesses around the country by an organization that sadly lacks the science to back up their claims.  Being outspoken against the EWG may continue to cost me some customers, but I believe education is the key to fact based decisions and safe cosmetics.

In the past few months I have been terribly disturbed to see the Environmental Working Group send repeated emails requesting just another $10 donation.  Each letter sounds more dire than the next as if the world would literally end if the EWG didn’t meet their budget. 

This inspired me to do a little digging to see just what Mr. Cook himself makes annually since he was making the earth shattering pleas for donations.  The only 990 I could get a hold of for the EWG was 2008

According to BA Carrington with Empowerment Enterprises, LTD, "They (EWG) have not filed a tax return on the 501 c 3 since 2008, according to the 990 database Exempt World, which is a subscription service to track 990’s.  Even though EWG is categorized as a charitable organization, it is still required to file a return under IRS codes and submit their “list of activities” to the IRS on an annual basis, even if they file an extension."  It could be that they have filed an extension and the deadline for the information has not yet passed based on their calendar fiscal year.  For more details on this possibility click here

The EWG has stepped up it’s fundraising to now include promoting the purchase of the very same sunscreens that they claim are bad for you through Amazon to raise money for the EWG.  Read more about that topic click here.

According to 2008 IRS Tax Filings

In 2008 Ken Cook was paid $219.401.00 plus another $21,295.00 estimated amount of other compensation from organization and related organizations. 

Richard Wiles $179,218.00 plus $20,998.00 estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations. 

Jane Houlihan $150,226.00 plus $19,448.00 estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations. 

William Walker made $136,448.00 plus 19,743.00 estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations.

Susan Comfort $115,752.00 plus $7932.00 estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations.

Sandra Schubert $127,229.00 plus $4884.00 estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations.

Alexander Formuzis $120.592.00 plus $10,920.00.  Christopher Campbell $136,909.00 plus $11,988.00 estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations.

Breaking it all Down

In case you got sick of reading the pay that is a total of $1,185,775.00 being paid to the top 8 employees of the Environmental Working Group just in 2008.  The total estimated amount of other compensation from the organization or related organizations for the top 8 at EWG was $117,248.00.  The total reported 2008 salaries for EWG was $3,203,747.00 in 2008.  The 2008 total revenue at EWG was $6,242,570.00.  Over half of their total revenue went into paying the employees of EWG. 

I am not opposed to making a profit.  I believe in Capitalism.  I also appreciate that it takes time, money and resources to pursue any public policy position. But still, more than half of the operating budget is a lot.  I am troubled when a non-profit that asks for $10 via email and $5 most of the time you click on their Skin Deep website as if they are on the verge of going out of business is spending so much of your money on their executives. 

In 2006 Ken Cook was reported to have been paid $192,000.00.  If Ken Cook continued at the same rate of pay increase over the past two years as he did from 2006 to 2008 he may be making as much as $245,000.00 (only an estimate based on the pay rate of increase from 2006 to 2008).

No wonder I get so many requests for another $5 or $10 donation from the EWG. At 2008 pay rates they need at least 118,578 people to donate $10 just to cover their top 8 executives pay…who knows how much is needed to cover it in 2009 and 2010?!

You have to wonder if the EWG is really hurting for money or if they just like to keep their budget at a certain number.  In 2008 the net assets or fund balances were $5,171,374.00 at the end of the year.  They were given gifts, grants, contributions and memberships fees in 2004 of $4,975,899.00, 2005 of $3,539,214.00, 2006 of $3,478,044.00, 2007 of $4,004,846.00 and 2008 another $5,963,800.00. 

A very revealing, carefully documented and thoroughly research of the history of and who is behind the EWG can be found on the Personal Care Truth website (click here to read.)

The EWG, Skin Deep and the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics have made many claims that cosmetic companies are financially driven to claim that ingredients are safe, I am simply wondering if EWG has a financial interest in saying that they are not safe.  I don’t know many small business cosmetic owners who are making as much money as the top 8 at EWG. 

I’m just saying…in this economy do they really need your $10?  What do you think?  Does knowing the money trail color your impression of the EWG as a non-profit?

Kayla Fioravanti and her husband Dennis own and operate Essential Wholesale

Ed. note: After reading Kayla’s excellent report and the comprehensive history at Personal Care Truth, as well as examination of available information  on the EWG website and other sources, several red flags wave.  These include, but may not be limited to, proportional ratio of administrative salaries vs. actual program funding; lack of transparency of donors as well as staffing and operations; unclear financial and staffing relationship between EWG and EWG Action Fund.  In 2002 an IRS complaint was filed against EWG asking for an investigation and revocation of their nonprofit status.  Further research is needed to establish the determination of that action.

© 2008-2009 Marcia Elston Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha