Sunday, August 24, 2008

Prince Charles on G.M.

PRINCE Charles has lashed out at the genetic modification of food as the biggest environmental disaster of all time.

In an exclusive interview filmed and published by Britain 's Daily Telegraph, Charles highlighted Australia 's problems with salinity as an example of the dangers of meddling with nature.

"Look at Western Australia," he said. "Huge salinisation problems. I have been there, seen it some of the excessive approaches to modern forms of agriculture.

"If you are not working with natural assistance you cause untold problems, which become very expensive and very difficult to undo. It places impossible burdens on nature and leads to accumulating problems which become more difficult to sort out," he said.

Prince Charles said multinational companies played with the natural world. The world 's food supply was being whittled away by soil damage wreaked by scientific research, he said.

Big companies used humanity arid nature as a gigantic experiment that had gone seriously wrong, he said. Why else are we facing all these challenges, climate change and everything?" Charles, who has an organic farm on his Highgrove estate, is no stranger to contempt from scientists because he made similar statements to the Telegraph in 1998 accusing geneticists of taking humanity into the "realms that belong to God and God alone".
Yesterday he insisted reliance on global corporations for food would result in disaster, one that would ensure the ~What we should be talking about is food security, not food production.~ PRINCE CHARLES "absolute destruction of everything ... and the classic way of ensuring there is no food in the future".

"What we should be talking about is food security, not food production. That is what matters and that is what people will not understand... and if they think it's somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another, then again count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time." Charles, who has spoken and written about world environmental challenges for more than two decades, argued that small farmers will end up being victims of corporate takeovers of food production.

"I think it's heading for real disaster," he said. If they think this is the way to go ... we end up with millions of small farmers all over the world being driven off their land into unsustainable, unmanageable, degraded and dysfunctional conurbations of unmentionable awfulness." The Telegraph editorialised that his comments would put him on a collision course with the international scientific community and Downing Street, which has allowed more than 50 trials of genetically modified crops in the past eight years.

The scientific community argues that GM research is the saviour that will produce food for a burgeoning world population, but there is likely to be great anxiety that such a high profile opponent has emerged at this critical time.
In his interview 10 years ago, Charles advocated a future for British agriculture that revolved around more family run co-operative farms. At the time, he rejected claims that he was being atavistic: "It is actually recognising that we are with nature, not against it."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Australia Washing

You’ve heart of white-washing and green-washing, well there’s another practice springing up which sets out to make something appear other than it really is.

We’re calling it “Australia-washing” – the practice of making something appear as though it was made in Australia, when in fact only one component had anything to do with Australia.

That component can be as simple as the adding of a label in Australia that was made more cheaply overseas.

In the case of the bedding industry, even though we grow a lot of cotton and wool here, most of it is now made in China.

That is a fact that most if not all importers want to conceal, so the tendency is to use the word Australia liberally in advertising campaigns and make no mention of China.

We regularly get calls from customers asking why our wool quilts are so dear, when they can buy 2 for under $100, as frequently promoted on TV. When we explain that the quilts they mention are made in China, they invariably protest that, no, the quilts are made in Australia.

The advertising campaign talks about Australian over and over again, so that such a strong image is created in the consumers mind that they don’t question where the product was made.
It’s a bizarre situation. We ship massive amounts of wool to China, where it is mass-produced with cheap labour and returned to Australia for sale. That’s a lot of shipping and it’s a lot of work denied Australian industry in the interests of cheaper price.

Globalisation is increasingly being seen as a tragic failure that lies at the core of the decay of our civilization.

It robs us of our sense of and commitment to community, and ultimately it benefits only those who do business that way.

Next time you seen an advertising campaign sprooking about Australia this and Australia that, perhaps take a moment to reflect on what really is being sold.

Please consider also that there are probably no controls over the quality or chemical content of the product being flogged off so cheaply.

In the case of our wool bedding products, yes, they are more expensive than most. That is because they are fully certified organic products, not just claiming to use organic cotton or wool, and the costs of meeting those standards are very high.

In fact, no other business in the world has ever gone to those lengths to ensure absolute purity and respect for our environment.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Chemicals in Bedding

Last week, we had 3 separate people telling us they were getting rashes from the bed-linen of a leading Australian brand.

Very little bed-linen is made in Australia now; most of it comes from China. Even our iconic Australian labels have gone there to save on production costs.

However several well-publicised reports have shown recently that formaldehyde levels in bedding from China can be over 100 times recommended levels. No wonder people are getting sick and worse – they are accumulating carcinogenic substances in their body.

Of course, those of us associated with the organics industry maintain that there simply should be no such chemicals used at all. They are unnecessary and deadly. The average consumer has no idea that there is a world of difference between certified organic cotton and conventionally grown and processed cotton.

It’s a sad fact that the vast majority of our consumer market is governed by price, indicating a deep-seated belief in lack. On the other hand there is a significant and rapidly growing number of people who don’t buy into that and who look for value based on the integrity of the product and the rationale with which it was made.

At Blessed Earth we have nothing against China or any country capitalising on cheap labour. They only give us what we ask for and it is ultimately our responsibility to make sure that the products we get are of adequate quality and safe to use.

One has to feel though that our Government has a central role to play in ensuring that imported products at least meet their own very lax safety levels. To do so is also in their best interests, as the cost of the bad health of future generations from the long-term absorption of traces of toxins in bedding could prove to be enormous.

We recommend that if it’s not organic, don’t getinit.

Monday, August 4, 2008

New websites released

Welcome to the new Blessed Earth websites.

There is one for retail (online) customers and one for retailers and both can be accessed from the website tab at the top right hand side of the home page.

We’ve wanted to do this for a long time. The old website did the job but it was very restrictive and didn’t reflect the professionalism we aspire to as a business. So we hope you like the look of the new ones and will enjoy navigating them.

Shopping online has gone from strength to strength in the 4 years we’ve been operating. In the early days, there was a lot of bad publicity about the dangers of it, however, touch wood, in many thousands of transactions we’ve never had a single incident.

Shopping online has proven to be safe, convenient, and economical, especially given the spiraling cost of petrol. In fact, it really has become the environmentally responsible way to shop.

We welcome your feedback on our websites. Please let us know if you think we can improve on them in any way and please bear with us if we experience any teething problems, especially with product details.

Each and every customer is special to Blessed Earth. Thank you for choosing to view our selection of high quality products – and hopefully for choosing to shop with us.

Retail Website:
Wholesale Website:

Radha & Raithe for
Blessed Earth

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What is Greenwashing?

At Blessed Earth, almost every day we talk to customers who have been misled to some extent by the advertising of traders who are cashing in on the trend towards organic products through “greenwashing”. Traders are popping up everywhere, especially on the internet, claiming to be selling organic products, aware that at this stage there is no regulatory body to prosecute them for false claims.

Greenwashing is the practice of trying to make a product, service, or enterprise appear more environmentally responsible than it really is. It derives from “whitewaswhing”, which is the practice of trying to make something appear to be purer than it really is.

The practice of greenwashing is usually intended to confer a commercial advantage by taking advantage of the growing public preference for environmentally responsible purchasing options.

There is an element of deception involved and that deception can be either blatant, or by failure to disclose, or by inference, or by inadequate checks on information contained in claims made.

  1. Blatant greenwashing would be a deliberately made false claim as to benefits conferred or organic status.
  2. Greenwashing by failure to disclose is where a piece of information that would, if made known, reduce the “green” appeal of the subject, is knowingly withheld.
  3. Greenwashing by inference takes advantage of public ignorance or misunderstanding and the association of ideas. An example of this would be the use of the word green in a product label, supported by advertising images of natural scenes such as a waterfall, even though the product could be toxic.
  4. Greenwashing by inadequate checking involves the making of a claim based on information that suits the purposes of the claimant, who does not take adequate steps to ensure that the information is correct. An example would be to market a product as “organic”, simply because the material from which it was made was claimed to be organic. Even if there were appropriately provided certification details for the material(s) used, the manufacturing process could have been toxic.
In the organic cotton industry, all the above forms of greenwashing can be employed by those who lack integrity or understanding.

It is said that the amount of organic cotton supposedly coming out of India far outweighs the amount of organic cotton actually being grown. It is common practice for vendors to call a batch of cotton “organic”, if minimal or no chemicals have been used, even if no certification has been obtained for the fibre. It’s also generally understood that certification can be “acquired”, even if not earned.

The lines are further blurred by the fact that even if a batch of cotton were certifiably organic, it could have been processed into fabric under conditions that did not satisfy the strict criteria.

There is also the practice commonly employed by some major retailers who, in the absence of binding regulations, are able to say their products are made from organic cotton, without providing any details of certification. So the consumer is expected to take their word for it, even though the product obviously contains, for example, Lycra.

Dyeing is another moot area, as there are relatively few facilities in the world that are able to dye fabrics to meet the criteria of organic certification. Dyes can be extremely toxic, perhaps even more so than the residual chemicals from cotton growing and fabric production.

This is especially true of products coming from China. Most if not all of the organic cotton clothing and bedding products being sold by Department stores in Australia come from China (some from India), a fact which they disguise as much as possible. Customers are invariably surprised to find that, for example, their “Koala Blue” sheets are made in China. Shame on you ‘Liv’…

For most consumers, the fact that that someone dared to make the claim of “organic” is made is enough. In fact, it is meaningless to read that a product is made from organic cotton, unless full certification details are provided and unless the operator providing those details has a good track record in testing the reliability of those details.

It is very rare for a product itself – and not just the fabric – to be certified organic. In order to obtain that, every step of the process from growing through manufacturing and even to retailing has to pass stringent tests.
As far as we know, Blessed Earth are the only Australian firm to meet those standards, with our Demeter certified products

Hemp is a fabric that has been expertly greenwashed, as most people have been led to focus on the fact that it grows in a manner that it is environmentally friendly. Few realise that hemp is naturally made into rope and that it requires a great deal of chemical softening to be suitable for clothing or bed-linen. All of the hemp coming into Australia comes from China – another greenwashed fact – and is dyed without consciousness about it’s toxicity.

Now that approval has been given to grow hemp in NSW, let’s hope we see on organic processing factory emerge for the fabrics that can be made from it. Then Blessed Earth will certainly support and promote them.