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Aspartame: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
If a product is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and composed of natural ingredients, would you assume it is safe to consume?
If the same product is an artificial sweetener, would you assume it helps control your weight?
Millions of people use aspartame, the artificial sweetener known as NutraSweet, with these assumptions in mind.
Aspartame can be found in thousands of products such as:
However, aspartame's tainted history of approval and potentially toxic ingredients cast serious doubt on the safety of this sugar substitute. Furthermore, aspartame may actually increase your appetite (Farber 52).
While the FDA approval may signal the green light for safe consumption, 85 percent of all complaints registered with the FDA are for adverse reactions to aspartame, including five reported deaths. A closer look at the unscientific studies, suspicious approval methods, and its harmful ingredients, reveal the hidden dangers of this artificial sweetener. In reality, aspartame poses a public health threat.
Ailments Resulting From Aspartame
The components of aspartame can lead to a wide variety of ailments. Some of these problems occur gradually while others are immediate, acute reactions.
A few of the many disorders associated with aspartame include the following:
Why don't we hear about these things?
The reason many people do not hear about serious reactions to aspartame is twofold: 1) Lack of awareness by the general population. Aspartame-caused diseases are not reported in the newspapers like plane crashes. This is because these incidents occur one at a time in thousands of different locations across the United States. 2) Most people do not associate their symptoms with the long-term use of aspartame. For the people who have killed a significant percentage of their brain cells and thereby caused a chronic illness, there is no way that they would normally associate such an illness with aspartame consumption.
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.
Erik Millstone, a researcher at the Science Policy Research Unit of Sussex University has compiled thousands of pages of evidence, some of which have been obtained using the freedom of information act 23, showing: 1. Laboratory tests were faked and dangers were concealed. 2. Tumors were removed from animals and animals that had died were "restored to life" in laboratory records. 3. False and misleading statements were made to the FDA. 4. 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. 5. 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.
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.(13)
The FDA and the manufacturers of aspartame have had a revolving door of employment for many years. 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.(24)
It is important to realize that this type of revolving-door activity has been going on for decades. The Townsend Letter for Doctors (11/92) reported on a study revealing that 37 of 49 top FDA officials who left the FDA took positions with companies they had regulated. They also reported that over 150 FDA officials owned stock in drug companies they were assigned to manage. Many organizations and universities receive large sums of money from companies connected to the NutraSweet Association, a group of companies promoting the use of aspartame. In January 1993, the American Dietetic Association received a US$75,000 grant from the NutraSweet Company. The American Dietetic Association has stated that the NutraSweet Company writes their "Facts" sheets.(25)
What is the FDA doing to protect the consumer from the dangers of aspartame?
Less than nothing.
In 1992, the FDA approved aspartame for use in malt beverages, breakfast cereals, and refrigerated puddings and fillings. In 1993 the FDA approved aspartame for use in hard and soft candies, non-alcoholic favored beverages, tea beverages, fruit juices and concentrates, baked goods and baking mixes, and frostings, toppings and fillings for baked goods.
In 1991, the FDA banned the importation of stevia. The powder of this leaf has been used for hundreds of years as an alternative sweetener. It is used widely in Japan with no adverse effects. Scientists involved in reviewing stevia have declared it to be safe for human consumption--something that has been well known in many parts of the world where it is not banned. Some people believe that stevia was banned to keep the product from taking hold in the United States and cutting into sales of aspartame.(26)
What is the U.S. Congress doing to protect the consumer from the dangers of aspartame?
What is the U.S. Administration (President) doing to protect the consumer from the dangers of aspartame?
Aspartame consumption is not only a problem in the United States--it is being sold in over 70 countries throughout the world.
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