Did you know that Aspartame — a cancer and brain tumor-causing substance, 200 times sweeter than sugar — was banned by the Food and Drug Administration twice, before Donald Rumsfeld nefariously helped get it approved for human consumption? Ever wondered why and how did the chemical additive — rejected multiple times over fears of cancer and brain tumors — become legal?
The Tainted History: How Aspartame Was Declared Safe
In 1965, one of the chemists at G.D. Searle, a pharmaceutical company, accidentally discovered aspartame while trying to create a cure for stomach ulcers. Searle decided to put their discovery through a testing process to get it approved by the FDA. After reviewing the testing data, the FDA approved Searle’s food additive application for aspartame on July 26, 1974.
However, after Dr John W. Olney and James S. Turner asserted that aspartame might cause brain damage resulting in mental retardation, endocrine dysfunction, or both, they objected to the use of aspartame in foods. Particularly, those foods consumed by children, were a target of the proposed ban. Consequently, an audit of Searle’s clinical methods was carried out, which revealed sloppy research and different discrepancies in its testing process.
As a result, in 1975 the FDA formally stayed the regulation authorizing the marketing of aspartame, observing that Searle provided an inadequate study to the FDA to expedite the approval of aspartame. Reportedly, that Searle violated Title 18, Section 1001 by falsifying data; and that Searle’s testing ran into problems and instead of correcting them, Searle covered the problems up.
A 1977 investigation revealed that the monkeys and mice subjected to the substance during testing, developed brain lesions, tumors, seizures and death. In 1980, the FDA ruled that aspartame might cause cancer, vacated the stay on the aspartame regulation, and, after concluding that aspartame should not be on the market until further safety testing had ruled out potentially dangerous side effects, revoked the regulation.
Despite the ban, Searle continued to ‘prove’ that aspartame was safe for use as a sweetening agent in certain foods. And it worked.
When Ronald Reagan was sworn in as the U.S. president on January 21, 1981, he made Searle’s CEO Donald Rumsfeld a part of his transition team, which then picked an inexperienced Dr Arthur Hull Hayes Jr. as the new FDA commissioner. Searle re-applied to the FDA for approval to use aspartame as an artificial sweetener in dry goods. Hayes obliged, and the FDA lifted the ban from the killer substance on July 18,
Sugar substitutes like aspartame should be avoided by people that have a difficult time metabolizing phenylalanine pic.twitter.com/7y6crPNwWD
— FDA FOOD (@FDAfood) March 31, 2016
In early 1983, the National Soft Drink Association wrote a letter to the FDA requesting it to delay aspartame’s approval for carbonated beverages, pending further testing. The NSDA insisted that when liquid aspartame is stored in temperatures above 85 degrees Fahrenheit, it breaks down into DKP and formaldehyde, both of which are known toxins. Despite the soft drink industry’s concerns, Hayes approved the use of aspartame — patented by Searle — in carbonated beverages in July, 1983.
In September, Hayes was forced to resign after it was revealed that the FDA commissioner was accepting corporate gifts for political favors; he joined Searle’s public relation firm as senior scientific consultant after leaving the FDA. In 1984, the year after aspartame was approved for use in soft drinks, Searle sold $600 million worth of aspartame under the brand name Equal and NutraSweet. That year Americans consumed over 7 million pounds of aspartame, equivalent to 1.4 billion pounds of sugar.
In his address to Congress in 1985, Senator Metzenbaum doubted the accuracy of the aspartame safety tests and introduced the Aspartame Safety Bill, to increase the likelihood that aspartame was used safely. The introduction of the Bill was aimed to inform consumers that aspartame was not intended for infant feeding, and to establish a Clinical Adverse Reaction Committee within the FDA to address consumer concerns, and investigate their claims. For obvious reasons, the Bill never became the law. Later, Monsanto – yes, MONSANTO – bought G.D. Searle and gave Donald Rumsfeld a $12 million bonus.
During the next 10 years, consumer use of aspartame increased dramatically, but the war was not over yet.
In 1996, Dr John Olney, long-time aspartame critic and a physician at the Washington University Medical School, who founded the field of neuroscience called excitotoxicity, completed a study connecting the use of aspartame to increased rates of brain tumors. Dr Olney attempted to stop the approval of aspartame with Attorney James Turner, but his findings were invalidated by NutraSweet, as well as the FDA, again for obvious reasons.
What harm can an artificial sweetener — which is proven unsafe on scientific grounds, yet approved by the FDA under strong political and financial pressure — do to you? If you love soft drinks, chewing gums, diet and diabetic foods, breakfast cereals, jams, and sweets; or buy vitamins, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, you must avoid brands that contain aspartame. The easiest way to do this is to check the labels before buying your foods or drinks.
The Huffington Post reports:
According to the top doctors and researchers, aspartame causes headache, memory loss, seizures, vision loss, coma and cancer. It worsens or mimics the symptoms of such diseases and conditions as fibromyalgia, MS, lupus, ADD, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, chronic fatigue and depression. A further danger highlighted is that aspartame liberates free methyl alcohol. The resulting chronic methanol poisoning affects the dopamine system of the brain causing addiction. Methanol, or wood alcohol, constitutes one third of the aspartame molecule and is classified as a severe metabolic poison and narcotic.
The effects of aspartame are documented by the FDA’s own data. In 1995 the agency was forced, under the Freedom of Information Act, to release a list of aspartame symptoms reported by thousands of victims. From 10,000 consumer complaints, the FDA compiled a list of 92 symptoms, including death. More recently, the EPA found Aspartame to be a potentially dangerous chemical along with BPA.
And, For Your Information…
The one-stop ‘authentic’ source on the Internet for information on aspartame — the Aspartame Resource Center — is a public relations arm of Ajinomoto, one of the world’s largest producers of aspartame.
FDA changed the name of Aspartame on packaging to ‘Amino Sweet’. Just a confirmation on how terrible it is.
— Matthias (@Matthiasiam) October 23, 2015