When you purchase shampoo or cosmetics and it has a sticker on it that claims it is “natural”, what’s your impression? You think the ingredients are all-natural, right? Naturally, you are not alone. However, the agency who in in charge of certifying personal care items as “natural” seems to think GMO ingredients fit under this umbrella. No matter what product it is, 100% natural does NOT also mean GMO-free.
The Question of 100% Natural
The Natural Products Association (NPA) claims its role in regards to personal care items is to help consumers choose those products that contain only safe and natural ingredients. They say their job is “to protect and equip consumers to maximize their well being.” As a result, they developed a set of guidelines and a certification process for personal care creators. The “essence” of their labeling process is that the product must contain only 100% natural ingredients, be safe and free of ingredients with any suspected human health risk, be free from animal testing, and be packaged in environmentally friendly materials.
But not only do they ignore the negative effects of GMOs, they do not even mention genetically modified ingredients on their “positive list” of ingredients. They act as if they don’t exist. In other words—they allow GMO ingredients to receive the “natural” certification.
The Organic Consumers Association (OCA) is leading a charge to have this changed. Ronnie Cummins, the Executive Director of the agency says the NPA is deceiving consumers “by leading them to believe that the products they buy, stamped with the NPA Natural Seal, are truly natural. There is nothing natural about GMOs.”
Incidentally, the NPA recently came out in opposition to Prop 37, the proposed legislation in California that would require GMO labeling. So, perhaps their goal isn’t to “protect and equip” consumers as they allege. Perhaps, like so many other corporations, their goal is to increase profits, maximize the bottom line, and pull the wool over our eyes.
Admittedly, products claiming to be 100% natural do have a higher chance of being better than products not carrying the label, but it’s important to know what the label really means. The definition of a ‘natural’ product has no defined parameters in law or regulation, so essentially these products can be — and many times are — as contaminated as what the consumer may have originally tried to avoid. Under federal regulations, it’s entirely acceptable to include additives that are not even deemed as ‘natural’, or use unnatural preparation methods like genetic modification or pasteurization. The product only has to be part ‘natural’.
What can you Do?
The OCA has begun a petition campaign and you can contribute. Soon after receiving thousands of emails, the NPA began blocking them. But the campaign is now being waged on social media sites. You can find the drafted email here on the OCA website and also find links to the NPA’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages.
It takes about two minutes to do your part. Tell the NPA to wise up about GMOs and stand by their promise to “protect” consumers. And of course, we recommend buying 100% organic as much as possible, and purchasing items that contain the NON-GMO Project seal.