Aspartame

by Sonia de Villiers, Grass Food Researcher

Unfortunately, aspartame’s approval was and still is largely a political affair. Many American consumers have long forgotten what the 60-Minutes’ correspondent Mike Wallace stated in his 1996 report on aspartame – that the approval of aspartame was “the most contested in FDA history.”

Aspartame E951– is an artificial, non-saccharide sweetener used as a sugar substitute in many foods and beverages. Aspartame is a methyl ester of the aspartic acid/phenylalanine dipeptide. Aspartame breaks down in the body and the chemicals it breaks down into are said to be potentially toxic. Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods. Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death as disclosed in a February 1994 US Department of Health and Human Services report.

It was first sold under the brand name NutraSweet. Soft drinks that contain it are; all varieties of Diet Coca Cola, Coca Cola Zero, Sprite Zero, Lucozade Sport, Schweppes, Fanta Zero, Fanta Orange. Canderal, the tabletop sweetener also contains aspartame.

ASPARTAME CAN BE FOUND IN:

  • instant breakfasts
  • breath mints
  • cereals
  • sugar-free chewing gum
  • cocoa mixes
  • coffee beverages
  • frozen desserts
  • gelatin desserts
  • juice beverages
  • laxatives
  • multivitamins
  • milk drinks
  • pharmaceuticals and supplements
  • shake mixes
  • soft drinks
  • tabletop sweeteners
  • tea beverages
  • instant teas and coffees
  • topping mixes
  • wine coolers
  • yoghurt

Some disturbing history on the approval of asparatame.

Nutrasweet was not approved until 1981, in dry foods.  In 1980 a FDA Board of Inquiry, comprised of three independent scientists, confirmed that it “might induce brain tumors.” For over eight years the FDA refused to approve it because of the seizures and brain tumors this drug produced in lab animals. The FDA continued to refuse to approve it until President Reagan took office (a friend of Searle) and fired the FDA Commissioner who wouldn’t approve it. Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes was appointed as commissioner. Even then there was so much opposition to approval that a Public Board of Inquiry (PBOI) was conducted in 1980. There were three scientists who reviewed the objections of Olney and Turner to the approval of aspartame. They voted unanimously against aspartame’s approval. The FDA Commissioner, Dr Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. then created a 5-person Scientific Commission to review the PBOI findings.

After it became clear that the Commission would uphold the PBOI’s decision by a vote of 3 to 2, another person was added to the Commission, creating a deadlocked vote. This allowed the FDA Commissioner to break the deadlock and approve aspartame for dry goods in 1981. Dr Jacqueline Verrett, the Senior Scientist in an FDA Bureau of Foods review team created in August 1977 to review the Bressler Report (a report that detailed G.D. Searle’s abuses during the pre-approval testing) said: “It was pretty obvious that somewhere along the line, the bureau officials were working up to a whitewash.” In 1987, Verrett testified before the US Senate stating that the experiments conducted by Searle were a “disaster.” She stated that her team was instructed not to comment on or be concerned with the overall validity of the studies. She stated that questions about birth defects have not been answered. She continued her testimony by discussing the fact that DKP has been shown to increase uterine polyps and change blood cholesterol and that increasing the temperature of the product leads to an increase in production of DKP.

After Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., approved the use of aspartame in carbonated beverages, he left for a position with G.D. Searle’s and Monsanto’s Public Relations firm. Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle in 1985. In addition to the FDA Commissioner and two US Attorneys leaving to take positions with companies connected with G.D. Searle, four other FDA officials connected with the approval of aspartame took positions connected with the NutraSweet industry between 1979 and 1982 including the Deputy FDA Commissioner, the Special Assistant to the FDA Commissioner, the Associate Director of the Bureau of Foods and Toxicology and the Attorney involved with the Public Board of Inquiry. The extreme FDA bias continues to this day leading some people to refer to the FDA as a Monsanto subsidiary.

How aspartame was approved is a lesson in how chemical and pharmaceutical companies can manipulate government agencies such as the FDA, “bribe” organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, and flood the scientific community with flawed and fraudulent industry- sponsored studies funded by the makers of aspartame.

Since 1974, Erik Millstone, professor of science policy at the University of Sussex has been researching into the causes, consequences and regulation of technological change in the food and chemical industries. He has compiled thousands of pages of evidence, some of which have been obtained using the freedom of information act 23, showing:

  • Laboratory tests were faked and dangers were concealed.
  • Tumors were removed from animals and animals that had died were “restored to life” in laboratory records.
  • False and misleading statements were made to the FDA.
  • The two US Attorneys given the task of bringing fraud charges against the aspartame manufacturer took positions with the manufacturer’s law firm, letting the statute of limitations run out.
  • The Commissioner of the FDA overruled the objections of the FDA’s own scientific board of inquiry. Shortly after that decision, he took a position with Burson-Marsteller, the firm in charge of public relations for G.D. Searle.

Aspartame consumption is not only a problem in the US. It is being sold in over 70 countries throughout the world. In January 2013, The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) began re-evaluating the safety of aspartame. All stakeholders and interested parties were invited to comment on the draft opinion through the online public consultation by 15 February 2013. On 9 April, the Authority wrapped up this process by holding a follow-up meeting to discuss the comments received. EFSA received over 200 comments on such issues as how EFSA’s experts select studies for its risk assessments, the safety of the metabolites of aspartame and how best to express uncertainties highlighted in the draft opinion. Erik Millstone submitted a report to EFSA challenging its biased review of the artificial sweetener aspartame.

EFSA had issued an opinion saying aspartame is safe, though history and much scientific evidence says otherwise. Prof Millstone emphasizes that a fundamental problem at EFSA is its asymmetrical evaluations of evidence. It habitually accepts at face value industry-sponsored data claiming aspartame is safe, yet relentlessly criticises and dismisses studies from independent scientists pointing to risks. Prof Millstone asserts that one possible explanation for the asymmetric bias in the interpretation of studies might be found in the pattern of conflicts of interest that characterise the members of the panel. Of the 17 members of the EFSA panel, 7 have direct commercial conflicts of interest, and another 5 have institutional conflicts of interest – for example because their employers have already announced that aspartame is safe. Only 4 panel members are not characterised by some relevant conflicts of interest. He also states that The European Commission and the European Parliament should also take responsibility for ensuring that EFSA acts properly to protect consumers rather than assisting the food and chemical industries.

Dr Russell L. Blaylock, a professor of Neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi, published a book thoroughly detailing the damage that is caused by the ingestion of excessive aspartic acid from aspartame. Ninety nine percent of monosodium glutamate 9MSG is glutamic acid.

Blaylock makes use of almost 500 scientific references to show how excess free excitatory amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid in our food supply are causing serious chronic neurological disorders and a myriad of other acute symptoms.

See also: Diet Soda Concerns

References:
ASPARTAME: POISON FOR THE MASSES! Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 2, #28 (Oct-Nov ‘95) and Volume 3, #1 (Dec ‘95-Jan ‘96).)
Document “Scientific Abuse in Seizure Research Related to Aspartame”
Department of Health and Human Services, Report on All Adverse Reactions in the Adverse Reaction Monitoring System, (February 25 and 28, 1994).
Testimony of Dr Jacqueline Verrett, FDA Toxicologist before the US Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, (November 3, 1987.)
See also: http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame/history.faq
ADA Courier, January 1993, Volume 32, Number 1. (26) “FDA Rejects AHPA Stevia Petition” by Mark Blumenthal, Whole Foods, April 1994.
Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, by Russell L. Blaylock, M.D. (4) Safety of Amino Acids, Life Sciences Research Office, FASEB, FDA Contract No. 223-88-2124, Task Order No. 8.)

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Helping you find integrity in the food chain soniam@eategrity.co.za

Posted in CONSUMER AWARENESS
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