Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Natural Perfumers Guild Associate Tony Burfield - Powerpoint of talk to British Society of Perfumers; Predicts move of perfumery out of the West due to Excessive Regulations

Tony Burfield gave a talk entitled “Is excessive regulation destroying the perfumery art?” at the British Society of Perfumers Safety Symposium, 11th March 2010, held at the Belfry Hotel near Cambridge, UK. Click the link to download a Power Point presentation of the talk. In contrast to the other speakers, who mainly advised on how to conform to the minutiae of existing REACH requirements, the new Classification, Labelling & Packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures regulations, and other EU measures (as well as adherence to the IFRA CoP), Tony attempted to outline the disproportionate nature of EU Cosmetics legislation, and its attempts to create an artificial world of synthetic based products which would be "safer" than nature itself.

Tony asked why the aroma industry had been so timid in the face of the burgeoning legislation which would all but destroy it, and why it couldn't find the time to challenge much of the bad science behind some of the more over-precautionary measures.

In a previous feature "Perfumers and the 40th IFRA Amendment" (Burfield 2007) first put out on Basenotes in Feb 2007, Tony had noted the declining importance & influence of the Professional Perfumer, no longer the courageous and opinionated artists, and rarely seen any more as company board members. Their decline in industrial status, often to a level slightly under that of the Regulatory Affairs Assistant, is even more evident now that previously. Yet  he was informed one by a well-known perfumer working for one of the major fragrance corporates, that the new generation of software-using perfumers have no problem in conforming to the avalanche of new regulations.

He interpreted this as referring to a younger generation who have probably never smelled a genuine yllang-ylang oil, or an unadulterated  sandalwood oil East Indian (as they are invariably ‘extended’ at source), and have a sparse knowledge or experience of the massive range of exotic natural aromatic materials. He further contends that they may well spend most of their working time tinkering with formulae, working on substitutions for contra-indicated ingredients such as cyclamen aldehyde, lyral, lilial or polycyclic musks, or lately even key materials like linalol (current shortage of this important ingredient apparently due to fire in a major producing facility in China).

Where do we go from here? With the impact of REACH set to remove a huge number of ingredients (both synthetic and natural) from the perfumers palette, and with over-exploitation continuing to endanger the future availability many natural aromatic materials, it is hard to see much future for the perfumery art in Europe, unless marketeering hype can induce consumers to buy products only suitable for consumers with unsophisticated tastes & perceptions.

As previously mentioned, many consumers are noticing the increasing evidence of 'chemical' notes creeping into fragrances, and some have used fairly negative odour descriptors to Cropwatch about individual perfumes (out of the multitude of today's short-lived  fragrance launches) which they perceive as  smelling  like 'cough candy', 'fly spray' or 'drain-cleaner'. Tony contends that the time is right for the centre of creativity, and progress in the art-of-the possible in fragrance design to move away from the West with its over-cautious ingredient restrictions.

The toxicologists, who now seem to call the shots in this profession, have helped ruin the aroma industry, yet can only point to a vanishingly small number of instances  where any alleged adverse consumer effects from fragrances have manifested as clear cut clinical cases. The future of perfumery surely lies outside the West, in countries which have more proportionate and should we say, a less hysterical approach to cosmetics health & safety regulation.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Nice post and thanks for bringing these issues to our attention. Its not only REACH, but groups like Campaign for Safe Cosmetics who want to ban anything that has a hint of being a carcinogen. Most plants contain both carcinogens as well as anticarcinogens. Blindly banning things because they have caused cancer when injected in high amounts in rats is just slightly hysterical. We'll be sorry when our favorite essential oils are banned by those who think they are protecting us.