health and beauty aids

GMOs Invade Personal Care, Wellness Aisles


Midway through a month-long educational campaign focused on how GMOs (genetically modified organisms) have advanced beyond foods to take up residence in the personal care and wellness aisles, The Non-GMO Project on Wednesday came down on the use of such product marketing terms as “animal free,” “cultured” and “precision fermentation.”

Hans Eisenbeis, director of mission and messaging for the nonprofit that for the past 11 years has verified non-GMO brands with a butterfly symbol on their packaging, said during a webinar that such terms may make consumers see green  -- but are in reality “red flags” that should alert them that the brands are using GMOs.

Born out of the natural foods industry, The Non-GMO Project’s website defines GMOs as “living organisms whose genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory through genetic engineering, creating combinations of plant, animal, bacteria, and virus genes that do not occur in nature or through traditional crossbreeding methods.”



What's so bad about GMOs? "We don’t know the long-term impact of GMOs on our bodies, but skin irritation, allergies and digestive issues are some of the known side-effects so far. GMOs may also clog pores, cause breakouts and leave you feeling foggy or fatigued,” according to Askincare brand Andalou Naturals.

Beyond the marketing terms, clues to personal care and supplement products using GMOs can be found from such listed ingredients as CBD or collagen, or by botanicals like grapefruit or vanilla, Cognato said.

Loren Israelsen, president of the United Natural Products Alliance, also pointed to “a confusion in terms and messaging…a co-opting of the actual messages that we consider important.” These include such terms as “green,” “sustainable” and “climate friendly,” he said.

Eisenbeis expressed concern that “a whole new generation of shoppers who grew up on cell phones…might be open to the idea that the magic of chemistry through synthetic biology can truly create a product that’s climate smart and gets us around some animal welfare issues.”

Israelsen concurred, saying that member of Gen Z are “true digital natives” who will become “true tech natives….They seem to have an inherent sense of both trust and the promise of technology.”

While the natural products industry he’s been involved with for decades has had “a deep sense of commitment to the planet, to the people and to what I regard as a virtuous path,” he according to expressed a “deep fear” that technology will become Gen Z’s “new religion.”

And why would they, or anyone, dispute a marketing claim like “made from sugar” that’s now being used for a lot of personal care products?  Asks Eisenbeis. “It’s quite misleading,” he said. “Sugar is the feedstock that’s often being used to feed the genetically engineered ingredients for bacteria that produces the novel ingredient. To call these things ‘made from sugar’ is a little bit like calling a traditional 100% beef hamburger ‘made from grass.’”

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