Lavender oil farmers reckon they'll lose business with change in EU allergy regulation

By Michelle Yeomans

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags European union Perfume

Lavender oil farmers reckon they'll lose business with change in EU allergy regulation
Under EU regulations adopted last year, lavender oil will be classed as potentially producing allergies which places it within the chemical toxins category. This has come as unwelcome news to French harvesters.... 

According to Provence based farmers, the regulation, due to come into force in 2018 is too extreme and will threaten profits of lavender oil, also referred to as blue gold, worth over £80 a kilogram.

The French harvesters reckon that under this rule, products containing lavender will have to bear bold black and red warning labels which read “Can be fatal if swallowed or inhaled”, ​for example.

They say that lavender oil, used for perfumes, cosmetics and aromatherapy is not a chemical and allergies only tend to produce rashes.

"What's more is that the oil has been used for healing and calming properties for centuries,"​ they report.

Call for reclassification

According to Francis Vidal, president of Apal, the association representing these producers; the farmers are now fighting “to survive.”

Apal is cultivated by around 1,500 producers, representing 30,000 full-time jobs that include catering to the millions of tourists who come for those panoramic views of purple fields.

While Vidal says harvesters aren't opposed to putting a potential allergy risk on their product, they are against extreme warnings that can be found on chemicals used in industrial processes, such as hydrochloric acid or cleaning products.

Instead they are calling for the oil to be reclassified under agricultural products and have received support from Raymond Chaillan, a French perfume creator whose nose helped create the scents for Opium, Anaïs Anaïs and Parfum d’Hermès.

The European Commission acknowledges that any substance whose contents depend on the amount of sun it receives and the kind of soil it springs from is difficult to classify as a chemical product.

EU authorities met the lavender producers in April and are now working on ways to help them conform to the law. Proposals are to be made this autumn.

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