Sweetener Might Be A Bitter Pill

Is NutraSweet, a low calorie alternative to sugar, a central nervous system toxin? There appears to be growing evidence that, although approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), NutraSweet

Share on Nextdoor

Is NutraSweet, a low calorie alternative to sugar, a central nervous system toxin? There appears to be growing evidence that, although approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), NutraSweet is not a safe food additive. Could it be that NutraSweet plays a role in headaches, seizures, vision problems, Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions?

NutraSweet, also known as Aspartame, also sold as Equal and Spoonful, is formulated from three components: two amino acids (building blocks of proteins) called phenylalanine and aspartic acid and methyl alcohol (methanol). Both amino acids are found in nature and in the proteins you eat.

Methanol exposure is usually FDA controlled. In nature, amino acids occur as various combinations of the 28 different amino acids, and in minute quantities. The body carefully regulates blood and brain levels of amino acids. When found in nature, the fact that they are grouped together limits absorption into your cells.

The main problem with NutraSweet is it contains phenylalanine and aspartic acid as isolated amino acids, not limited by the others and in much higher levels than found in the proteins we eat.

Taking a highly concentrated dose of phenylalanine and aspartic acid from this additive increases blood and brain concentrations.

Independent studies have shown for decades that an increased level of either amino acid is toxic to the brain. Why does the FDA allow both of these compounds in one additive?

Even more harmful to the human brain is methanol, because at temperatures higher than 86 degrees it converts to formaldehyde and then to a more deadly compound called formic acid. There has never been a safe level of exposure established for formaldehyde. It is the methanol content from excessive alcohol exposure that creates the long-lasting neurological symptoms in alcoholics.

Nature, being rather smart, also combines ethyl alcohol in your favorite adult beverage, which negates the possible damage from the methanol, unless consumed in large quantities. A very powerful neurotoxin, the FDA carefully controls methanol by allowing only minute quantities in food or in environmental exposures.

Except in NutraSweet. This sweetener contains seven times more methanol than allowed in any other food product. Why the exception?

Interestingly, Michael J. Fox has been the spokesperson for Diet Pepsi for a long time. Consuming eight to 12 cans per day, he claims he is addicted. In his mid-30s, Fox is probably the youngest person ever to be diagnosed with Parkinson's.

Studies show NutraSweet interferes with a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Other studies show that Parkinson patients have a decreased production of dopamine.

Why does the FDA allow three known neurotoxins in one product and one of them in quantities seven times higher than in any other food? Could we draw an inference from the following information?

NutraSweet was discovered in 1966, and G.D. Searle Co. won approval for use in 1981. It was spun off into the NutraSweet Co., and both companies were sold to Monsanto Co. in 1985.

Investigations by United Press International (UPI), protests by numerous scientists, previous knowledge of the toxicity of each of the ingredients and even FDA task forces that challenged G.D. Searle's company-funded studies had no effect on the decision. Arthur Hull Hayes, then FDA commissioner, approved the additive. There are no studies that are not company-funded giving a clean bill of health to NutraSweet.

Monsanto is also the world leader in genetically engineered foods. The plot thickens when campaign donations and political appointments are considered. On the record, Monsanto gave an average of $118 to each congressional candidate. Consider these facts: Attorney General John Ashcroft received $10,000 during the 2000 election cycle and Larry Combest, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, received $2,000.

Former President George Bush Sr. appointed Monsanto lawyer Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is a past chairman of G.D. Searle Co., now owned by Monsanto. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Venneman was on the board of directors of Calgene Pharmaceuticals, now owned by Monsanto. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, former governor of Wisconsin, was a supporter of Monsanto in his state. He received $50,000 from biotech firms is his election run and used state funds to set up a $317 million biotech zone in Wisconsin.

Mitch Daniels, director of the Office of Management and Budget, was the vice president of corporate strategy at Eli Lilly Pharmaceutical Co. Eli Lilly and Monsanto developed the genetically engineered bovine growth hormone. Monsanto has also brought us DDT, dioxins and PCBs.

Take no comfort that everyone mentioned is a Republican. Consider a statement by CEO Robert Shapiro in a December 2000 Monsanto electronic newsletter: "Agricultural biotechnology will find a supporter occupying the White House next year, regardless of which candidate wins the election next November."

The reach into our government and control of such a large part of our current and future food supply is The Pelican Brief come to reality.

Why did President Bush approve federal funding for research involving approximately 60 lines of stem cells? Could it be because University of Wisconsin researchers control the majority of those lines? Does former Gov. Thompson come to mind again?

Once again you have a choice. My belief is that if man has created or altered a food, it has potential for problems. Send a message and stay away from synthetic and genetically altered foods. Your health might depend on it.

Scroll to read more News Feature articles


Join CityBeat Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.