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Diana KayeToday my guest is Diana Kaye. She and husband James Hahn are co-founders of their USDA certified organic business Terressentials. They’ve been on this show together many times, but today Diana is here to talk about GMOs in personal care products. As an organic body care product formulator for more than 20 years, Diana knows all about what is going on in the industry. Diana and James are the husband-and-wife co-founders of the USDA certified organic business Terressentials. They own a small organic farm in lovely Middletown Valley, Maryland and have operated their organic herbal personal care products business there since 1996. Terressentials was originally started in Virginia in 1992. It grew out of their search for chemical-free products after Diana’s personal experience with cancer and chemotherapy in 1988. Prior to Diana’s cancer, they were involved in commercial architecture in Washington DC. Diana and James are proud to be an authentic USDA certified organic and Fair Made USA business. They are obsessive organic researchers and artisan handcrafters of more than one hundred USDA certified organic gourmet personal care products that they offer through their two organic stores in Frederick County, Maryland, through a network of select retail partners across the US, and to customers around the world via their informative web site.








GMOs in Personal Care Products

Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Diana Kaye

Date of Broadcast: July 14, 2015

DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic free.

It’s Tuesday, July 14th, 2015. I am here in beautiful Clearwater, Florida where I think it’s going to start having thunderstorm pretty soon, but I think we should be fine for the show today. We actually have thunderstorms here every day in the summertime. In fact, I’m not too far away from the extreme weather capital of the United States. We have a lot of thunderstorms and hurricane sometimes too, but anyway, thunderstorms are very predictable.

Today, my guest is Diana Kaye. She’s been on the show before. She and her husband are co-founders of their USDA certified organic business Terressentials where they make personal care products, which means that not only are the ingredients are certified organic, but the business itself and all the making of the product is organic as well.

She’s been in the personal care industry for more than 20 years and she knows a lot about what’s going on behind the scenes. Today, we’re going to be talking about something that is not usually discussed about personal care products and that is GMOs. Diana’s going to tell us what’s going on with GMOs in personal care products. Hi, Diana.

DIANA KAYE: Hey, Debra.

DEBRA: How are you doing?

DIANA KAYE: I’m doing fine. I think we’re going to have a thunderstorm here in any minute. So hopefully, we won’t have some kind of an electrical thing going on.

DEBRA: Oh, wait. I think I hear a thunder. I think I hear a thunder. 

DIANA KAYE: You guys have rain every day. It’s coming into a tropical rainforest down here in Maryland because we have had so much rain this summer as well.

DEBRA: Yeah. We have a lot. For those of you who don’t live on the east coast or the south, this is the way it is. This is the way it is all over.

DIANA KAYE: I know I’m laughing about it. There are people that are not having enough rain and I’d love to give it to them.

DEBRA: I know.

DIANA KAYE: We’ve just had so much, but it makes the flowers grow.

DEBRA: It does, it does. And I love it. I love it. This is why I always just wear tank tops and Capri pants because I never know when I’m going to get soaking wet.

DIANA KAYE: That sounds familiar.

DEBRA: I grew up in Northern California and we hardly ever had thunderstorms. So I just love it. I just love it.

Anyway, this is not a show about thunderstorms. We’re going to talk about GMOs in personal care products. But first, would you just explain. I think this is a really important point and I’m seeing slowly. I’m starting to see more of the difference between using organic ingredients versus certified organic as a company.

DIANA KAYE: Debra, thank you for bring that up because that is a very serious issue and a concern of mine and my husband’s for many years. If you’re a business – this could be for anybody. I don’t care what kind of business they are. Maybe right now, I’m telling people how to cheat.

You could call a company that is a certified organic producer of the cocoa butter or vanilla. And you can say, “I’m interesting in buying your ingredients. Can you please prove to me that you’re certified organic?” And that company will hand you a copy of their organic certificate. Voila, you have it. You don’t ever have to buy the ingredient, but you have this company’s certificate in hand. So it’s unfortunate.

DEBRA: Oh, my goodness.

DIANA KAYE: We talked about correction in government a lot, but there is a serious lack of ethics just across the board in the United States for sure and probably this happens in other industrialized countries as well.

That’s very sad because many companies claim that their ingredients are organic and they boldly put organic in their company names. They put it on their website. They even put it on their packages in more than one place. But who’s verifying what these people say?

There are companies that I have seen that claim this and they are claiming they have organic ingredients that do not exist. And they claim that their products are organic and some people say their products are beyond organic. But here’s the fact. If you don’t have anybody, an independent authority verifying that, then, I repeat, you simply cannot trust somebody’s word. You just can’t. There’s a huge difference.

For example, we’re certified organic and every year, we have to submit what’s called an organic plan. For us, it’s a huge four inch binder. So we have to maintain not only organic certificates for everything we buy, but we have to maintain all the invoices, which show the quantities. And then we have to maintain production logs and inventory tracking for every single ingredient.

When they do an audit, which for sure at least definitely annually (and sometimes, they can do surprise audit), they have to track what you say made versus what you bought. It has to match up. And they make us track down to 0.01.

It’s tedious. It’s consuming. It’s highly technical. It takes a lot of effort to maintain this documentation to submit your organic plan every year and then go through this inspection.

That’s the difference. When we say organic, we mean it. And our facility, it’s not just ingredients, but your whole building. We have a crafting studio. It’s inspected and you cannot have chemicals, pesticides on site. They check your cleaning product. They even want to know how you’re trapping your insects and mice. You have to maintain your pest plan, cleaning maintenance schedule. These all have to be in writing, so everything is documented.

DEBRA: I just want people to know that there is a difference between what Diana is talking about being a certified company where she’s putting ingredients together to make her products, but her whole facility is certified organic. We really need to be looking at that now and not just looking at the word “organic” on the label or even asking for the certificate.

This is the new standard. This is the standard – the facility also needs to be organic. I say that because if it’s not, then there’s the opportunity for things that are toxic to get into the product.

DIANA KAYE: For sure.

DEBRA: We’ve actually talked about this on another show.


DEBRA: I wanted to bring this up because I have my attention on this right now.

DIANA KAYE: I’m so glad. Certificate isn’t good enough. That’s right. The company will send you a certificate for ingredients. That’s not good enough. You need to have a certificate for the product, their finished product because you can get an organic certificate anywhere. That means nothing without certification of the actual product.

DEBRA: Yes. So anyway, let’s talk about GMO’s because that’s what we’re here to talk about today. So I’m just going to let you take the subject and run with it because I don’t even know what to ask you.

DIANA KAYE: That’s okay because it’s a pretty complex issue. If you’re in the biotech world, it is because there are so many different protocols that are involved.

The thing that’s most important for people to know is in the world of certified organic under the Federal Law, GMOs are prohibited from being in certified organic products. So if people are concerned about these genetically modified organisms, your best bet is to go certified organic, USDA certified organic because it is one standard in the world that explicitly prohibits GMOs from being included in products that are certified organic.

Generally a lot of people today I think are familiar with GMOs. A lot of nonprofit groups have been up in arms in fighting some of the big corporations.

DEBRA: Wait. Let’s not assume that everybody knows what a GMO is because we hear about it a lot. But you know how sometimes you can hear about something and not know what it is and then you don’t ask anybody and you don’t look at it.

We actually are going to need to go to break in a matter of seconds. But when we come back, let’s start with what is a GMO and what kinds of things in terms of personal care products. We hear a lot about GMOs in foods, but we don’t hear about GMOs in personal care products. Of course, they probably would be there.

So we’re going to go to break. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Diana Kaye. She’s from Terressentials and they’re at We’ll be right back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is Diana Kaye from Terressentials.

We’re talking about GMOs in personal care products. Okay, Diana. Let’s start with what is a GMO.

DIANA KAYE: That really is an excellent point. Thank you for backing me up.

GMO actually stands for genetically modified organism or transgenic organism, which means any organism whose genetic material has been altered using genetic engineering techniques. So GMOs are things that are created in a laboratory.

We have a variety of different types of GMOs. GMOs can happen in just simply a plant that might be used for fiber. There have been experiments where they have inserted jellyfish genes into different plant materials. They have played with species like cross-species, plants into animals. So there are genes from glowworm into a monkey. We have got all kinds of mad science going on out there.

The thing about GMOs is that they are all synthetically created. They use a variety of different types of chemicals to culture cells, to manipulate them, to alter them and to create things essentially that have never before existed in nature. So here you have men and women playing creator. The problem with this that a lot of people agree with in terms of people who are more environmentally inclined is that we’re unleashing on the world things that have never existed, that didn’t occur or evolve naturally.

This really has been going on, believe it or not, for about the past 60 years in small instances, mostly with plants by doing manipulation of plant cells from to another to create hybrids, to create plants and some woods for industry. But it’s now expanded beyond just simply hybridizing types of techniques for plants into some rather insidious forms of manipulation.

DEBRA: Yeah. When something is made from a hybridized plant, is that considered to be a GMO?

DIANA KAYE: If it’s performed with GMO techniques, not the centuries old implantation of pollen grains, if it’s done in a lab and in a Petri dish. And they may mutate something or create a mutation by exposing it to radiation. They may mutate something by exposing it to a very toxic petrochemical. These are not natural techniques. It’s not what occurs in nature.

Humans in the past would create hybrids and they might dip a feather in pollen from one flower and move that pollen with the feather to another plant, another flower. That’s how they might have created hybrid in the past. And humans have been doing that for centuries, maybe even thousands of years.

This is very different in the settings and the way that they are manipulating. They’re not just taking those pollen grains. For example, maybe they’re taking pollen or they may take a plan stem cell. We think, “Oh, plant stem cell. That sounds like that’s really beneficial.” Well, hold on. That’s another scary thing.

But they will react, that material, whether it’d be a plant stem cell or a pollen grain and they can react it in any one of hundreds of different ways to alter that genetic material.

DEBRA: But this is very different. I don’t mean to interrupt you, but I just want to keep it simple because there’s probably a lot we have to talk about here.

I think I was asking a question because a lot of times, you go to a nursery or something and you want to buy seeds to plant in your garden. It will say hybrid this or hybrid that. That’s not the same necessarily as GMO corn.

DIANA KAYE: It actually very well maybe.

DEBRA: Okay, that’s the question I’m asking you. If we’re talking about the bigger subject we are discussing here today, which is keeping GMOs out of personal care products, the GMO might be GMO corn for example. But if the ingredient is hybrid lavender, is that a GMO?

DIANA KAYE: There’s no way for you to know unless you specifically request in writing “Is this a GMO-free material?” It’s not scary. That’s how it is in our world today.

DEBRA: There are so many hybrids. I mean you can hardly go – I’m not a prolific gardener, but I’m a gardener enough that I have purchased seeds. And mostly, I like to purchase heirloom seeds and I don’t purchase hybrids. I want the pure strains. They grow differently.

Even when I lived in California, we had plants. I lived in a valley actually where it was enclosed and we had a lot of gardeners and we would all pass our plants back and forth to each other because we actually were creating varieties that were suited to our specific area. But we weren’t doing it in a lab with toxic chemicals and putting in fish genes and stuff like that.

Gardeners have been doing that forever and that’s not what we’re talking about. When I go to the store and I see seeds with big popular brand names on them, it’s all hybrids because that’s something that they can patent as opposed to something that a gardener grows in their backyard.

DIANA KAYE: Exactly. This is happening around the world with giant multinational corporations going to various countries and taking the traditional crops and taking them into their labs altering these traditional crops that people have owned for thousands of years that families and indigenous farmers have used. They have saved their seeds. They pass these seeds and plant them for generation.

And what’s happening in many countries is the corporations are manipulating the plant material inserting genetically modified organisms, changing the plant, patenting it and then excluding farmers from the material that they have owned. It’s their birthright. It’s a crisis in this country.

That’s been going on for more than 20 years and probably some people have heard about that. But now, it’s moved even beyond that. If it could get worse, it’s gotten worse.

DEBRA: We need to go to break, but when we come back. We’re going to talk more about this. This is a whole day subject to think about.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Diana Kaye from Terressentials. They’re at We’ll be right back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is Diana Kaye from Terressentials. Okay. Now that we’ve established what a GMO is – did we finish that?

DIANA KAYE: Probably yes.

DEBRA: Now let’s talk about how you find out if there are GMOs in the personal care products or not.

DIANA KAYE: To reiterate from my previous discussion here today, how do you trust people? Today, if you are a personal care products company, many people would not even ask the question of their supplier. If you’re a company producing products, if you want to be ignorant or if you just don’t know enough, you’re not going to ask the right questions about your ingredients. And if you are not certified organic company, you’re at the mercy of whoever you’re buying ingredients from and whatever those ingredients might be.

I’ve seen today, there are always tends in the person care industry and we don’t really follow trends like that. We’re more of a traditionally herbal-based organic company. But there are trends and latest trends that sound really important and exciting, plant stem cell technology. And also we’re hearing a lot about peptides.

People, consumers buy these things and they’ll buy them often from health food because they think that these things are better than what is on the market, the wide open marketplace. However, many of the people again in the stores that brings these products. They have no idea. If it says “all natural,” that’s what they bring in and if it’s on the web, people say whatever they want because we don’t really have heavy oversight from any government agency over what personal care product companies are saying about their ingredients and their products.

I’ve seen a very, very large interest and movement into personal care products with synthetic GMO ingredients and also of course in the food world. But in our world, which is certified organic, a lot of our ingredients come from the food world. So we buy from food manufacturers.

One of the things that I wanted to mention and this is a rather new offshoot of GMOs is that there actually was a protocol, an agreement, an international agreement signed, the Cartagena Protocol back almost 10 years ago where a number of countries got together, the United Nations countries got together and made agreements about what GMO would mean and how we would protect the world and its citizens from economic harm and environmental harm and personal health.

But today, we have now a new twist on this. We have something going on called Synthetic Biology. My belief is that this is created by a lot of international corporations – we can talk about that – to go under the radar of the Cartagena Protocol.

If I can just read this quote from Friends Of The Earth…

DEBRA: Please do because this is a new term for me, Synthetic Biology.

DIANA KAYE: It’s really worth becoming educated about. Debra, it could be a whole other topic for a show, but this is frightening, very frightening.

“Consumers trust that when products are marketed as natural and sustainable, they will not contain ingredients produced via genetic engineering or synthetic biology,” as we already discussed, the certification or USDA organic certification. “However,” listen to this, “synthetic biology also known in the tech world as synbio is an extreme version of genetic engineering.”

Are you getting goosebumps? Instead of swapping genes from one species to another as in conventional genetic engineering – and this is Diana adding as if that wasn’t scary enough – synthetic biologists employ a number of new genetic engineering techniques. And I put emphasis on the word new.

One of the things that they’re doing is using synthetic human-made DNA to create entirely new forms of life or to reprogram existing organisms to produce chemicals that they would not produce naturally.

DEBRA: Why? Why? Why?

DIANA KAYE: So here is all about money. It’s about money. I’m going to give you an example of an ingredient. This has actually crossed our company’s path as a certified organic company.

Vanilla. Everybody knows about vanilla. It’s my favorite flavor. There are 49 flavors of ice cream and I’m going to go for vanilla. I love the flavor.

DEBRA: I love vanilla. I love vanilla.

DIANA KAYE: The thing about vanilla is that it’s a tropical orchid. It’s interdependent upon a forest environment to be able to grow. So you don’t really grow it in rows like you do corn and it’s been a plant that has been harvested for a really, really long time, centuries.

In order to cultivate this plant, which is a forest plant, the people have always maintained the forest. And you have to create a great balance there so that you would always have this beautiful vanilla orchid growing and to be able to sustain a farming community. They would then sustain the forest and then the world would have this delicious wonderful bean, this vanilla bean.

DEBRA: I just think that’s so beautiful, just that description that there needs to be a forest to have a vanilla.

DIANA KAYE: Yeah. Maybe that adds to just aroma and the incredible complexity of the vanilla. And it’s grown in several countries around the world, but it sustains communities and protects our tropical forests.

But it’s also expensive. If anyone has seen an orchid, it’s a very delicate plant. The production volumes are not high. So it requires a lot of labor and a lot of anchorage. In other words, we’re really maintaining a lot of our forests in order to produce vanilla. It’s a really wonderfully human compatible crop in my opinion. However, it’s costly to produce. If you have a problem with thunderstorms, too much rains, not enough rains, it’s such a delicate plant that that really can dramatically affect your harvest and your commodity in citrus markets.

Diet corporations don’t like widely fluctuating prices and they don’t like expensive ingredients because for them, it’s about “How can we bring something to market and make the most money, profits to make our shareholders happy this quarter or next quarter?”

DEBRA: I need to interrupt you right here just because we need to go to break. And then we’ll finish your story when we come back and I can hardly wait to hear what you can say.

You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Diana Kaye. She and her husband are Co-Founders of their USDA certified organic business Terressentials. When we come back, Diana will tell us more about GMOs in personal care products. We’ll be right back.


DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Diana Kaye from the USDA certified organic business Terressentials. Okay, Diana. Finish your story about vanilla. Hello?

DIANA KAYE: Sorry about that. Vanilla, it is. Buttons in our technological world. I wanted to talk about vanilla because I think it’s something that so many people are familiar with and it’s so wonderful and it’s so safe and so beautiful.

One of my problems today, one of my big concerns is that certain companies have taken this incredibly beautiful ingredient, the flavor that so many million, maybe billions of people love and they have transformed it using extreme synthetic biology. The frightening thing is because synthetic biology is not identified in the Cartagena Protocol, these corporations are flying under the radar of an agreed upon set of regulations, international regulations.

For example, the vanilla now, what they are doing is they are – again, I’m just going to read something from Friends Of The Earth because it’s just so clear. “Synthetic biology vanillin is different from the artificial vanillin already on the market.” Of course natural vanilla comes from the vanilla orchid.

For years, we’ve seen artificial vanilla or vanillin, which is reacted with petroleum chemicals of completely synthetic source. But today, artificial vanillin is a mix of chemical components. The new synthetic biology vanillin is synthesized by a genetically engineered organism, which is a GMO yeast engineered using synbio techniques.

So what they are doing is they’re using yeast and bacteria and they are re-engineering them so that the – there’s no delicate way to put this. But the excrements from the yeast and the bacteria are producing, depending upon how they manipulate these bacteria yeast and what they feed them, they are creating flavors that are in food and are being used as aeronautics and personal care products.

The frightening thing is that these synbio people are really clever. They associate with GMO because remember they’re flying under the international regulations. So they’re calling it synthetic biology. So when they re-engineer these yeasts, they’re saying, “Oh, it’s a naturally fermented product.” They’re actually now calling this synthetically engineered vanilla “natural.” That is frightening.

And the industry says, “Oh, it’s so environmentally friendly because we don’t need soil to grow the plant material. We don’t have to depend on rain or use water to irrigate the crop.” They’re completely excluding the fact that they essentially are going to be putting all these families out of business who have farmed this ingredient.

Let’s back up a second. What are they feeding these engineered yeasts, these bio-engineered yeasts and or bacteria? They’re feeding them sugar and sugar is something that is controlled. So they can clear or cut a rainforest to grow sugarcane and use the sugar to feed these yeasts and or bacteria to produce what they want. But the sugarcane can be cultivated like chlorine and rose and you can use machines to harvest and process. I can tell you the sugar is not organic. So is it genetically modified sugar?

But they’re using it to feed these yeasts and bacteria to produce this synbio vanilla. And the frightening thing is…

DEBRA: But it’s not going to say GMO on it.

DIANA KAYE: No. In fact, it is now being called “natural vanilla.” And the frightening is we got a product information sheet in the certificate from a company that sells in the food industry. We submitted it to our organic certifier.

The certifier’s job is to investigate certificates to make sure that they are legitimate. If there’s a question about a product, they communicate with the company because they have confidentiality agreement. So the company would not tell me or you their processing. If they claim to be organic, they’re supposed to reveal this information on a confidential basis under the trade secrets guide to anyone from the USDA and or an accredited USDA certifier.

Here’s what we found out. A vanilla being sold as organic under the USDA [inaudible 00:44:29] was included. It’s part of that component. You would expect a vanilla that’s organic to be vanilla beans steeped in grain alcohol if it’s an extract because that’s your traditional vanilla extract, right?

DEBRA: Right.

DIANA KAYE: Well, this vanilla included vanillin, a naturally fermented natural vanillin that was spiked with that, an organic ingredient. Is this frightening?

DEBRA: It is frightening, but it just reinforces what I’ve been saying for a long time. If you really want to know what’s in your stuff, you need to just start with the natural ingredient and make it yourself. After this story, I’m only buying vanilla beans.

DIANA KAYE: I hate to bring this up, but the fact is this is a company for whatever reason that shows to spike vanilla. And somebody told them, “Oh, use this. It’s naturally fermented.”

There are a lot of issues with that because under the 95 Organic Rules, if something is organic, that means 95% or more of the ingredients are certified organic. And if there’s any percentage like 5% or less, that material that you add to that organic product must be on the USDA National List of Approved Substances.

It gets gray there. Why in the world would you be spiking an organic vanilla with a natural vanilla?

DEBRA: I think they didn’t understand what it was.

DIANA KAYE: We’ll say that, but the thing is this is just one ingredient. In a certifier practice, if the product is not certified, who’s catching these things? That’s because they’re being sold as “natural.”

And the synbio, these GMOs, they’re doing all kinds of things, all different kinds of ingredients that are being used not just in the food world, but in the personal care world or a host of things. Sometimes, people would be so surprised to find out.

But the companies are getting behind this because these ingredients are cheap. They’re inexpensive. They’re synthetically created.

Debra, you may know this from being aware of so many chemically sensitive people that – this has been tested – you can expose people to something like a real plant, a real flower aroma. Actually put this flower under their nose and let them inhale it and they’ll be okay.

You can take that same person – this is almost like the folks who have lost their vision. Their other senses become enhanced. When people have been chemically compromised, some of their other senses and their sense of smell become tremendously enhanced. So a lot of times, people can smell. More sensitive individuals can smell the difference or taste the difference. But that’s not everybody. That’s not the whole population.

We’re more concerned about GMOs. Now we have something completely different that we’re going to have to start focusing on, which is synthetic biology masquerading as natural.

DEBRA: This is just incredible to be. I think there’s so much more we could say about this, but we only got about a minute left.

DIANA KAYE: How did that happen?

DEBRA: I know. I just don’t want to cut you off in the middle of the sentence because the show is ending. But we really got a minute and a half. It’s what we have right now.

This is new and fascinating informative and something that I need to look into because to have something be synthetic biology certainly isn’t natural.

DIANA KAYE: No, it isn’t.

DEBRA: And we need to know this and we need to know more about it. Wow.

DIANA KAYE: I can make a suggestion Debra.

DEBRA: Yeah.

DIANA KAYE: We just tapped into about one-tenth of [inaudible 00:48:59].

DEBRA: I think we need to have another show on this for sure. You and I will talk in the interim and we’ll make sure we [inaudible 00:49:07] all these out and get this information out because this is just…

DIANA KAYE: It’s tremendous, isn’t it?

DEBRA: It is. It is.

DIANA KAYE: It’s mind-blowing. I think people really need to know about this to protect themselves because these are things that have never ever existed on this planet before.

DEBRA: I just want to throw this in, in the last 30 seconds. There’s a lot of action now to get GMO labeling. If I understand correctly, GMO labeling would not cover this.

DIANA KAYE: No, that is a big issue. That’s why I’m talking to you, Debra because we need to get it out there. We need to make everyone aware.

DEBRA: All right. So I’m going to start you right there. Thank you so much for being with us today.

DIANA KAYE: Thank you. Thank you. It’s been wonderful.

DEBRA: You’re welcome. You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. Be well.


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