The organics sector is calling on Australian consumers to reject marketing from big cosmetic companies promoting nanotechnology, claiming that the safety of the technology is still unknown and that the only safe alternative is to purchase organic beauty products.
Nanotechnology is a field of applied science where matter is manipulated at the nanoscale (down to 1/100,000 the width of a human hair) to change the internal structure of compounds and create new materials and products.
The full health implications of nanotechnology being used in creams applied to the skin, or cosmetics, is not yet completely understood, however nanotechnologies are reportedly reaching the market at a rate of 3‐4 new products per week with cosmetics and sunscreens representing a reported 60% of listed products.
In a recent marketing campaign, suncreen brand Invisible Zinc labelled its product was ‘not nano’. Complaints were made from other companies and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) ruled that the claim of ‘not nano’ be removed from the product.
Carla Oates, representative for organic industry representative body, the Biological Farmers of Australia (BFA), says it is important consumers are aware of nanotechnology in their products and the TGA ruling is arbitrary and inconsistent.
“The people who are really losing out are consumers. They are caught up in the middle of marketing antics of big companies and the inefficiency of regulating bodies,” Ms Oates said.
“The only way you are to be guaranteed of getting a truly safe product is by purchasing a certified organic product. If you don’t, it’s important to look up all the ingredients on the ingredients list in order that you are aware of what you are putting onto your skin and potentially into your blood stream.”
A Position Paper released this year by the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) said; In the absence of a moratorium, all food, agricultural and other products which include manufactured nanomaterials must be clearly labelled to allow consumers and farmes to make an informed choice. The paper goes on to say; Those who seek to commercialise manufactured nanomaterials should be required to demonstrate the safety of the new technology efore the technology is released. (2011)
Owen Gwilliam, BFA Cosmetics Advisory Group Convenor says, “The Therapeutic Goods Administration, by ordering a cosmetics company to remove a nanoparticle‐free claim has set a worrying precedent.
“While the jury is still out on whether or not such particles are dangerous, surely consumers have the right to know what is in the product they are using, or at least have the choice to buy a product that does not contain ingredients they are concerned about.”