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An Oasis in the Land of Confusion

By: Jeb Gleason-Allured
Posted: May 1, 2008, from the May 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.

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“Since there aren’t any [U.S. organic] regulations in the industry,” Kapsner continues, “producers can say anything they want on an organic label. They can say ‘this is a certified organic product,’ and it doesn’t really have to contain any significant amount of organic content. That confuses customers as to what products are truly organic. There’s no way to judge what a company’s doing, versus what it’s saying right now.”

Founding member Karl Halpert (Private Label Select) adds, “One of our main missions with this is to create some clarity amidst all the chaos.”

Oasis has set its standards as follows:
•    A requirement for 85% organic content. This percentage will be continuously evaluated by the Oasis board and eventually raised to 95%. Kapsner notes that no timeline has been set.
•    Allowance for up to 15% nonorganic content produced via green chemistry. (See “12 Principles of Green Chemistry.”1)
•    No petroleum chemistry is allowed.

Halpert estimates that many allied companies will quickly begin the certification process, which is overseen by the Oasis board and technical review committee, though validation is carried out by an independent third party. “I think you’ll start to see [certified products] within 12 months,” he says, though Kapsner points out that, “some companies can move faster than others, so it’s hard to say how fast it’s going to be.”

Challenges of Raw Material Sourcing
“The biggest [challenge] is supply and demand,” says Kapsner, explaining that certified organic raw material sources for formulators will be the industry’s biggest challenge. “That’s part of the reason why Oasis decided to set the organic content requirement at 85%. It’s high enough to create a demand so that the finished product companies will need to look to their suppliers to supply them with certified organic versions of cosmetic ingredients so that they can meet the standard. That’s the whole objective: get that organic requirement up high enough so that it drives the production of more organic agriculture.”