Today’s post isn’t strictly about Monsanto, although they did play a big part in the story’s unfolding.
On Monday a new sugar substitute called advantame was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Advantame is manufactured by Ajinomoto Co., Inc. and is made from aspartame and vanillin, what the company website calls “an ingredient of vanilla.”
This made me think of aspartame’s history which really shows the cronyism between chemical companies and the government is nothing new.
In 1985 Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle, the chemical company that held the patent to aspartame, knowing of aspartame’s past, including a 1980 FDA Board of Inquiry that confirmed it “might induce brain tumors.”
Based on those findings the FDA banned aspartame. Then Donald Rumsfeld vowed to “call in his markers” to get it approved. You remember Mr. Rumsfeld the Secretary of Defense from 1975-1977, and again from 2001-2006. Rumsfeld was also the Chairman of G.D. Searle in 1976.
So the day after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration, Searle re-applied to the FDA for approval. Reagan’s new FDA commissioner, Arthur Hayes Hull, Jr., appointed a 5-person Scientific Commission to review the decision. When it became clear the panel was sticking by a 3-2 decision to ban, Hull added a sixth member to the panel which brought it to a deadlock. Hull then broke the tie himself by voting to approve the application. Hull later left the FDA under allegations of impropriety and after a while took a position at Burston-Marsteller, the chief public relations firm for both Monsanto and GD Searle. See how people keep going round this circle, in and out of government and chemical company payrolls?
Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names Equal, Equal-Measure, NutraSweet, and Spoonful. It is the most dangerous food additive on the market accounting for 75% of adverse reactions reported to the FDA. Now there is a new sweetener approved by the FDA with aspartame as its base.
So what’s the big deal? Ingesting aspartame can cause chronic illnesses to be triggered or worsened. It has also been proven to cause brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, Grave’s disease, premature births, and diabetes.
Sadly, it doesn’t always have to be labeled on products like milk (more on that later.) Asparteme is usually in low calorie and low-fat versions of anything.
So what can you do? Obviously avoid low calorie and low fat versions of food and I know I sound like a broken record but read your labels and look for certified organic foods.
If you do want to use a low-calorie sweetener try Stevia. Personally I think it tastes better than the chemical counterparts and it is a natural substance. Don’t be fooled by Truvia’s inclusion of stevia in the ingredients list. Truvia is no more natural than crack. Just because you use a natural ingredient doesn’t mean there is anything natural about it when the product is final.
Stevia is a natural product. There is some controversy connected to it because there have been no long-term studies on interaction with medications. However, there have been no links to stevia and any adverse health affects.