FTC’S Bamboo Smear Campaign Riddled with Deception

by Corey Lynn on November 4, 2009 · 2 comments

in FTC Allegations

FTCMany of you have been following our posts regarding the Federal Trade Commission’s claims on the bamboo textile industry. If you haven’t, it would be in your best interest to start from the beginning with our first post, “FTC Bamboozles Public on Bamboo Fabric”.

By now, I think it goes without saying that the FTC is making claims and allegations without their own evidence, while crucifying four bamboo companies for not having enough conclusive evidence of their own. Kind of an oxymoron isn’t it?

The reason I chose the words “smear campaign” for this title is because it is rather appropriate given the language the FTC continues to use in their press releases when referencing the bamboo textile industry as “deceptive”. In their consumer alerts, they formulate their sentences with words of mockery such as, “But when it comes to soft bamboo textiles, like shirts or sheets, there’s a catch: they’re actually rayon”, leading consumers to believe that all rayon is one in the same. This is our government writing statements like this…not a magazine ad trying to squeeze out their competition.

Notice the FTC’s choice of words “they’re actually rayon”? I highly recommend you review scientific test results on how different “bamboo rayon” is from “traditional rayon”, in our post “FTC Claims Bamboo and Rayon Are One in The Same“. This provides scientific evidence on only one characteristic that sets bamboo rayon apart from traditional rayon. We will be posting more scientific data over the upcoming weeks, so grab our rss feed to keep informed.

The FTC goes even further out on a limb by stating bamboo is not biodegradable when in fact it is, as many other things are that the FTC disqualifies because they cannot decompose in a landfill which is where nearly all of U.S. trash is disposed. Again, a bit of an oxymoron no? By this very definition the FTC would not qualify fruits and vegetables as biodegradable either.

I think the icing on the cake is their talent for creating an illusion that bamboo is not eco friendly. They go on and on about “false green claims” and yet at no point do they make recognition to the fact that bamboo is THE most renewable, sustainable, pesticide free, herbicide free, water free (no need to water for harvesting) woody plant in the world! Aside from providing people with shelter, food, medicine and products for centuries, it literally removes CO2 from the atmosphere and produces over 30% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees. Not only that, did you know it can be used for providing soil stability due to it’s incredible root system? All sounds pretty good for helping to prevent deforestation huh?

But the FTC doesn’t want you to know about these incredible qualities and they certainly don’t want “green claims” being made. Now I am not disputing that the manufacturing process of bamboo into fabric, whether it’s for bamboo clothing or bamboo sheets, is not the greenest option.  However, compared to its counterparts (other fabric sources), bamboo is clearly the choice if you look at the overall process from start to finish…not to mention the thousands of trees that could be saved for other products that are derived from wood. Everything you utilize that is made from wood can be made from bamboo and at a much better quality. Bamboo can be harvested every 4-5 years, trees every 20-30 years…you do the math.

Of course the production of bamboo for the textile industry would certainly put a damper on the cotton industry…an interesting point indeed. Flash forward 20 years into the future when the U.S. has harnessed how to grow and harvest bamboo so that there is no longer a need to import from China. Do you think the FTC would be putting on a show for the cotton industry? I don’t think so.

The fourth company that the FTC is attacking on the bamboo claims, is the M Group (Bamboosa). If you have followed this story then you already know that Bamboosa has been trying to fight the FTC on these claims, but they are a small company without the deep pockets required to fight the FTC. Unfortunately, Bamboosa fought the good fight but had to throw in the towel because clearly they are fighting a losing battle. And despite their attempts to get clarification from the FTC as to what scientific data is required of them for the antimicrobial claims, the FTC refuses to respond while disqualifying the test results Bamboosa had provided – calling it “inconclusive”.

Let me give you an example of FTC deception. They begin with a statement in their consumer alert, “There’s also no evidence that rayon made from bamboo retains the antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant, as some sellers and manufacturers claim.” Notice the FTC clearly states that there is NO EVIDENCE. Yet, they go on to make this claim in their recent press release: “Bamboosa claimed that its products retain bamboo’s antimicrobial properties. However, even if the rayon used in Bamboosa’s clothing and textile products is manufactured using bamboo as the cellulose source, the FTC contends, rayon does not retain any natural antimicrobial properties of the bamboo plant. The rayon manufacturing process eliminates any of these natural bamboo properties.”

At no point has the FTC provided any scientific evidence to back up their claim. Knowing full well this isn’t going to make it to a court of law, I suppose the FTC can attempt to have you believe anything they want to. This is commonplace for the FTC. Just take a look at other documented cases that have made it to the court room in our post “Federal Trade Commission Discredits Itself“.  Two Words: Smear Campaign.

Mo from Bamboosa has a little something to say about their efforts in fighting this battle and where they stand with these claims.

FTC Bamboosa“Hi, this is Mo from Bamboosa. I’d like to make a comment on this FTC thing if I may.

First, I want to say that the only reason that Bamboosa has decided to sign the consent order, after nearly a year of dealing with this, is that we feel we cannot fight the FTC. We are a small company with limited resources and we need to direct those resources where they will do the most good for our employees and our customers.

Bamboosa stands by our products as one of the best choices you can make for textiles or apparel. Our products, when taken as a whole, have a reduced environmental footprint when compared to most textile or apparel choices.

The FTC is incorrect in their assumption regarding the environmental impact of the fiber production and about any hazards to the workers. The FTC is looking at data from the standard production methods for rayon, not the production methods developed in the last several years for turning bamboo into a fiber.

They are also incorrect when they say that all fiber classified as rayon or viscose has the same attributes regardless of the cellulose source. Our tests have proven that there are significant differences between viscose from bamboo and viscose from a tree.

Regarding antimicrobial properties, the tests that we provided them with that show bamboo fabric inhibits the growth of bacteria may not have satisfied their requirements, but anyone who has ever worn a bamboo shirt or socks and sweated in them knows that the resistance to odor is there.

I would also like to say that any implication by the FTC that Bamboosa has engaged in any sort of ‘greenwashing’ is absolutely without merit. Our suppliers that sell us the fiber call it ‘bamboo fiber’. Our yarn spinner that sell us yarn says it is ‘bamboo yarn’. Bamboosa simply used the same terminology as we were getting from our suppliers. It is also worth noting that Bamboosa changed all of our labeling to read ‘viscose from bamboo’ prior to any FTC action. We made that change as soon as we were aware of the need for it.

Lastly, Bamboosa is a little company in a little town in SC. We started this company to try to bring some textile jobs back to Andrews. We are extremely proud of the products that we make and will put the environmental footprint of our products up against any apparel products on the market. While our fiber may come from China, the rest of our manufacturing, from yarn spinning to knitting, dyeing, sewing, and printing is done within a very small radius in SC.

The real story here should be why the FTC is trying to squash a small little company that is creating American jobs and who produces a product that, in reality, lives up to every claim that is made about it. Thanks, Mo”

If you are as dismayed with the FTC’s tactics in their bamboo smear campaign as we are, we want to hear from you. Textile chemists, scientists, lab technicians, attorneys have fought against the FTC, and those passionate about having a better environment for our future….we definitely want to hear from you!

Speak up America…before the FTC controls our freedom of speech on the internet, including blogs…no joke…it’s coming!

You have the chance to speak up on this matter and let your voice be heard, but time is running out!
The order will be subject to public comment for 30 days, until November 23, 2009, after which the Commission will decide whether to make it final. To file a public comment, please click on the following link:  https://public.commentworks.com/ftc/D9340/ and follow the instructions at that site.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kkanuck January 4, 2010 at 11:19 am

FTC’s misleading claims and ulterior motives….

Happy to see that others agree….one needs to question the FTC and there motives as well. Bamboo is a superior fabric to cotton, which also uses chemicals for production, but that topic is never brought up strategically.
This whole FTC against the bamboo industry is nothing more than cotton lobbyists trying to protect there wallets.
Yes there are different ways to produce bamboo from the stalk to fiber, and some are not as friendly as others, but for the most part, it is not like what the FTC is trying to make the American public believe.
Cotton uses a lot of pesticides when growing, where bamboo does not require any. This depletes petroleum reserves as it is the key ingredient in pesticides. We are fighting over oil globally and most wear cotton, you figure it out….Cotton also consumes a lot of water due to the large amount of irrigation needed to sustain its growth. Bamboo relies on rain water, end of story. We will be fighting over water in a major way before you know it. On the back side, bamboo is odor resistant in comparison to cotton, so it requires less washing. So it saves water and electricity on the back side…..
Keep doing research everyone, and you will see this fictitious story unfold . The FTC will lose this fight in time. This is all about money unfortunately.
As more people buy bamboo, it will lead to finding even better methods to produce it from stalk to garment compared to present day technologies!

2 Corey Lynn January 9, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Excellent information – thanks so much for sharing. And we too are hoping that new methods of manufacturing will be developed real soon!

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