Now local activists warn that the Bride of Frankenstein still lurks: genetically-modified cosmetics. Soya and corn oils are ingredients in numerous paints and potions, especially skin creams, but no GM labels are required.
"Many of the manufacturers in the beauty industry don't even know what's in them," says Claire Palmer, a Jericho-based graphic designer and environmental campaigner. "This is potentially harmful even more so than eating GM food. Being filtered through the stomach and liver through eating, we are told, helps to break down any alien or harmful DNA.
"Any product used on the eyes or lips enters the bloodstream even more quickly and powerfully through the tear ducts or saliva. This method of entry into the human body increases any potential risk that untested GMOs may have."
Transmission of disease via make-up is definitely possible. The BSE inquiry warned that no one was minding the shop and that expensive formulas containing material from a cow spleen, thymus or placenta could have infected people with cuts, scratches or abrasions. Scrapie, a similar condition, was passed to mice this way in 1996 experiments.
The cosmetics industry
was left to police itself, however, as back in 1990 civil servants didn't
want to create a "huge stir" or "unjustified fuss".
Legally binding rules were introduced only by the European commission
The risks of genetic
engineering are still unknown, but the Government has imposed a three
year ban on commercial planting. Many, like the Body Shop, are pushing
for a longer moratorium of five years.
Famed for its eco-friendly,
politically-correct products, the company is now striving to go GM-free.
"The first step is to ensure all oils such as soya and corn
are from a certified GM-free source," a spokesman explains.
"We are also investigating the impact of GM components in any processed
ingredient we use."
Yet cosmetics aren't
the only culprit. Jean manufacturers are engineering denim-blue cotton
and even Marks&Spencer underpants the great emblems of the
middle-class were once modified to resist pests such as the boll
"We do have a small quantity of organic cotton," a spokesperson suggests, "but that's not the same as GM-free."
Women are divided
on the subject. Sarah Wheeler, 24, of Brackley, takes a moderate view:
"Personally, I would rather use ingredients that were genetically
modified than tested on animals. However, I would like some reassurance
that such products would not cause adverse reactions because of their
"I am quite
doubtful that modified ingredients can 'perform' more effectively than
natural, less refined ones. Still, any make-up which includes genetically
modified ingredients should be clearly labelled to allow the customer
to choose one way or the other."
Natural health and
beauty expert Emma Hardie refuses to use GM cosmetics. "I wouldn't
touch it with a barge pole," says the owner of Future Face, Future
Body in North Oxford. "I wouldn't put something on my skin that I
wouldn't eat. You don't know what effect it would have. You could turn
into a beet root."
Claire would like
to see it all stop, as would her compatriots in the Oxford protest group,
GMO campaign. These are the people behind the colourful carnival protests,
starring pantomime cows, chickens, bees and salmon. They say the three
year ban on commercial GM crops is not enough, especially when aspects
such as make-up ingredients and GM animal feed are not being
"You also have
the double-edged sword of the European Commission trying to remove natural
cosmetic remedies from the High Street," Claire adds. "These
natural remedies and products have been tested by thousands of years of
use on human skin, many with proven beneficial effects.
this with something untested and potentially harmful to human health?"
underpants the great
emblems of the middle-
class were once
modified to resist
pests such as
the boll weevil.
replace this with
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