Lavender farmers in outrage

French lavender farmers are up in arms over plans to classify lavender oil as a skin sensitiser

French lavender farmers are up in arms over plans by the European Commission to classify lavender oil as a skin sensitiser.

Many producers in Provence have threatened that they will quit farming lavender altogether in favour of other raw materials if the regulations, which would require warning labels on lavender-based products from 2018, were to come into effect.

No wording for the labels has been finalised but there are concerns among producers that it could be something like: ‘May be fatal if swallowed’, the kind of warning label more associated with caustic substances.

“For the industry, it will become easier to use synthetic products, which are better identified and considered – wrongly – as being less harmful to consumers and the environment,” said a statement by PPAM (Union des Professionnels des Plantes à Parfum, Aromatiques et Médicinales), a trade body acting on behalf of potentially affected producers.

“Natural products would then be reduced to mere marketing tools and their uses would be minimal,” it continued. In the summer, the association began a campaign called ‘Panneaux dans les champs de lavande’, placing placards in fields, which read in French: “Lavender in Danger – help us to save our diversity.” However, the EC appears to be moving ahead with the legislation.