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Saturday, November 6, 2010

FDA Corrupted Beyond Repair? You Decide . . .

In public speaking engagements and on our Adverse Reaction Reporting Hotline, the question I am most often asked is, "Why is aspartame still on the market?" Even more troubling, "Why did FDA approve a controversial, super version of aspartame 13,000 times sweeter than sucrose?" You heard correctly, "Thirteen thousands times the sweetening properties of sugar!" FDA continues to irrationally support the artificial sweeteners: aspartame/Neotame [aka AminoSweet/Sweetos/NutraSweet/Equal] based solely on highly-disputed, industry-sponsored tests showing safety. So, what's wrong with this picture?

We lay the blame and responsibility fully at the doorstep of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in Washington DC. At the same time, our Aspartame Consumer Safety Network does recommend that consumers shun products containing these non-food sweeteners. Leave them to expire on the retail shelves. They contain almost zero calories, because they are NOT Food! Therefore, they trick the body into thinking real food is on the way. By the time the body figures it out, it is too late. The sweetener does not accumulate in the body, but the damage done to the body most certainly does accumulate.

In the now-famous Jerome Bressler Report to FDA, this honorable FDA toxicologist shows how aspartame fed lab animals suffered deaths, cancers, severe organ damage, etc. Recent tests by independent researchers all over the world, confirmed the Bressler Report findings - adding leukemia, lymphoma to the long list of maladies caused by aspartame-type sweeteners in tests and reports to our Hotline.

FDA’s official position? Absolutely nothing is wrong or harmful about aspartame/Neotame/AminoSweet/Sweetos/Equal/NutraSweet, despite the undisputed fact that approximately 80% of all adverse reaction complaints to FDA are aspartame related. Unlike pharmaceuticals - serious adverse reactions to a food additive are not required by law to be reported by physicians. FDA lists over 92 symptoms consumers have tied to aspartame consumption - including deaths. Reports show that when individuals cease ingesting aspartame, their symptoms usually go away.

“Junk Science” and worse was used by G.D. Searle CEO, Donald Rumsfeld, to gain approval for aspartame in the first place as a tabletop sweetener and in 1981 and in 1983 for aqueous solution [soft drinks]. Some concerned FDA toxicologists even went as far as to show the tests were “falsified” to get aspartame approved in the first place. Why wasn't the substance immediately re-called and re-tested as a drug, which is how it was discovered?

Aspartame was first FDA-approved in 1974, but that approval was rescinded before it could get to market because of serious questions about one of the breakdown products, DKP , which caused brain tumors in the laboratory animals. At a Washington D.C. News Conference, November 1997, John Olney, M.D., noted brain researcher, presented his compelling findings of a 10% increase in brain tumors since the advent of aspartame on the market.

Further troubling to many independent scientists is the fact that virtually all the studies showing harm are “corporate neutral” as one aspartame researcher put it. Many studies are available to show harm caused by aspartame’s phenylalanine, aspartic acid and toxic breakdown products: methanol - formaldehyde - formic acid and diketopiperazine. Tens of thousands of consumers and others have reported serious adverse reactions to the FDA and consumer advocacy organizations collecting reports, such as the international Aspartame Consumer Safety Network and Pilot Hotline.

Woodrow Monte, R.D., Ph.D., a former director of the Arizona State University Food Sciences and Nutrition Laboratory, is uncomfortable with the methanol content of aspartame. In an 1986 interview, Monte called aspartame "a crime against humanity." "Humans are 100 times more sensitive to methanol than animals. When you ingest aspartame, it breaks down into methanol within one hour of ingestion. Methanol forms as soon as aspartame goes into solution and increases the longer it is in solution." according to Monte. Because heat speeds the breakdown of aspartame into methanol. This raises serious concern about aspartame's 1993 approval for use in baked goods and other heated products, like hot cocoa and tea. Although aspartame came about as the result of a search for a drug, and its compounds were the basis for a potential prescription medication, the petition for approval of NutraSweet was based on the premise that it was a food additive. The FDA followed its precedent of permitting manufacturers to conduct their own product safety research.

Monte feels that aspartame was mislabeled from the beginning. "aspartame is a drug, not a food additive," he said. "One hundred million people, from little babies to the elderly, are consuming this stuff in megadoses, more than they ever would if it were labeled a drug." [Informed Consent May/June ‘94]

Outspoken critics are suggesting - not that we rid ourselves of a Food and Drug Administration - only that we rid ourselves of the present “corrupted” Food and Drug Administration thus changing the current FDA focus of protecting the profits of the giants of industry to one of protecting the American public, which it is charged to serve.

The FDA seems to have everything “backwards” in its regulatory thinking. The herbal sweetener with centuries of no adverse reactions to its credit versus the artificial sweetener which has been surrounded by a storm of controversy since its flawed approval twenty nine years ago.

Conclusion: FDA’s ability to evaluate any substance objectively has been called into question by consumers and independent researchers alike. Senator Metzenbaum called FDA officials mere “Handmaidens to Industry” in the 1987 Senate Hearings on the Safety of aspartame. Corporate megabucks influence and determine the actions of that government agency created to protect the consumer from harm. In an unfortunate ripple effect, FDA's seal of approval is the standard used by agencies around the world to allow food additives into their countries, without doing their own investigations. Corporations routinely cover themselves by donating millions to organizations such as: American Dietetic Association, American Diabetic Foundation and others. FDA officials routinely hop with jumping-bean-like ease from government to private industry and back.

This is a major injustice forced upon the children of the world. Especially given the fact that a massive public relations campaign to 'demonize' natural sweeteners is gaining momentum, so that eventually all sweet foods and beverages will be sugarfree and artificially-sweetened with the controversial fake sweeteners, such as aspartame and Neotame, that trick the developing neurological system of our youth. Greed versus health, which will win? It’s up to us, the consuming public. I am optimistic about the future and the ability of our citizenry to wake up and swing into action - given both sides of the sweetener issue - Industry's side and the Corporate Neutral scientists and citizens who have absolutely nothing to gain monetarily with our position.

One person (you, the reader) can and must work to make a difference in the way the world looks at sweeteners. Won't you join us in getting the word out to everyone you know? Ask your doctor to enter into your medical records if you believe you are having a reaction to aspartame. Tell your pharmacist to enter into your data you want no prescription that contains aspartame or neotame as an active or inactive ingredient. Or, anything that contains phenylalanine (another name for aspartame.) Be a proactive consumer. Act as if your life depends on it!