Q: Your important consumer education work on the
sweetener "aspartame" is
well known and we are delighted to speak to you. Is it true that the large
majority of non-drug complaints to the Food and Drug Administration are
about adverse reactions to aspartame, also called NutraSweet or
A: Currently, itís about 78% of all complaints. At one time, the figure was
85%! Yet, this isnít reported in the newspapers or announced through other
media. Itís a well-hidden secret.
Q: Imagine if it were a vitamin or herbal product, weíd have the federal
pill police swarming like angry bees. Would you please list for us some of
the symptoms caused by aspartame?
A: Aspartame not only causes individual symptoms, it can mimic entire
syndromes! For example, the CFIDS (chronic fatigue and immune deficiency
syndrome) newsletter calls it the "sweet poison, NutraSweet," because it can
mimic the symptoms of CFIDS. It can also cause grand mal seizures.
to H.J. Roberts, M.D., it can cause decreased vision, pain in the eyes,
decreased tears, ringing in the ears, hearing impairment, headache,
dizziness and unsteadiness, confusion, memory loss, drowsiness, sleepiness,
slurring of speech, numbness and tingling, tremors, depression,
irritability, aggression, anxiety, insomnia, phobias, heart palpitations,
shortness of breath, high blood pressure, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain,
itching, hives, menstrual changes, weight gain, hair thinning and hair loss,
urinary burning and frequency, excessive thirst, fluid retention, bloating,
increased infection, and even death.
A: Five deaths reported prior to 1987. We donít know the number since then.
Q: Whatís in this stuff?
A: Among other things, itís about 10%
methanol (wood alcohol,) famous for
causing blindness in alcoholics. In the body, methanol metabolizes into
formaldehyde, a neurotoxin; formic acid, a venom in ant stings; and
diketopiperazine, which causes brain tumors in animals. Itís so bad that in
July of 1983, the National Soft Drink Association presented official
objections to putting aspartame in beverages. Iíll read you one of their
"It is well established under Section 402(a)(3) that a food
which contains a decomposed substance...is subject to seizure by
thoroughly established that after a number of weeks and at temperatures over
85 degrees F, thereís no aspartame left in a soft drink, only breakdown
products. So, why isnít FDA seizing it under Section 402 (a)(3)?
Q: Your book, Deadly Deception reports that initially FDA had started
investigations of the G.D. Searle Company, makers of aspartame.
A: Yes. In 1977 an
FDA task force submitted a 15,000 page document covering
their investigation. Here are two quotes:
"We have uncovered serious
deficiencies in Searleís integrity..."
"The cumulative findings of problems
within and across the studies we investigated reveal a pattern of conduct
which compromises the scientific integrity of the studies."
Q: These are from
FDAís own task force report on Searleís aspartame research?
A: Exactly. Your readers may not know that aspartame
was originally approved
in 1974, but when the brain-tumor issue arose, the approval was withdrawn.
Q: Tell us about the "brain-tumor issue."
A: Many of the test animals fed aspartame developed large tumors. These were
actually cut out, and the animals returned to the study. In some cases, the
tumors werenít even examined for malignancy, and the tumors werenít reported
to FDA. In several cases, animals were reported as dead and later reported
as alive again.
Q: No wonder FDAís task force "uncovered
serious deficiencies in Searleís
A: The results of the task force investigation of aspartame and other
drugs were presented to the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Labor and Public
Welfare. Senator Edward Kennedy said that,
"the extensive nature of the
almost unbelievable range of abuses discovered by the FDA on several major
Searle products is profoundly disturbing."
Q: So, how did aspartame ever get approved and progress so far into our food
A: Well, for one thing, a former member of Congress and Chief of Staff in
the Ford Administration, Donald Rumsfeld, was hired as President of Searle
in 1977. Rumsfeld was paid $2 million in salary and $1.5 million in bonuses
between 1979 and 1984.
A: Also, in 1977, Senior Assistant U.S. Attorney, William Conlon was
assigned to the Searle case. He took no action, despite repeated prodding by
Richard Merrill, Chief Counsel to the FDA. One year later,
Conlon took a
position with Sidley and Austin, the law firm representing Searle.
Q: A pattern seems to be emerging.
A: Rumsfeld, now Searle president, hired:
John Robson as Executive Vice-President
- he had been a spokesman of the Civil Aeronautics Board; William Greener as
Chief Spokesman for Searle - he had been a spokesman in the Ford White House;
and, Robert Shapiro as General Counsel, who later became head of Searleís
NutraSweet Division - he had been a Special Assistant in the Department of
But, hereís the pay-off!
Q: No pun intended?
A: The facts are interesting, arenít they? In 1983, the Commissioner of the FDA, Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr. approved NutraSweet for
soft drinks two
months before leaving office. Two-to-three months later, he accepted a
position as Senior Medical Advisor to Searleís public relations firm, Burson
Marsteller. He was paid $1,000 per day as consultant.
Q: Really, $1,000 a day? This is a matter of public record?
A: A matter of public record. And, Michael Taylor was also involved in the
approval of aspartame.
Q: Michael Taylor, the
Bovine Growth Hormone (rBGH) man, who worked for
FDA, lawyered for Monsanto to get rBGH approved, then went to work for
writing the rBGH regulations?
A: The very same. Didnít you know that
G. D. Searle is a wholly-owned
subsidiary of Monsanto, with Robert Shapiro as current CEO?
Q: What a surprise. And a not unfamiliar pattern. But, tell us about
aviation and aspartame.
A: The official
Air Force safety magazine, FLYING SAFETY, and the Navyís
flight magazine, NAVY PHYSIOLOGY, have both published warnings about using
aspartame and flying.
Q: Will you give us an example?
A: A pilot called ACSNís Pilot Hotline two nights ago and told me about his
experience. Flying for Peninsula Airlines in Alaska, he had a seizure in
flight at 10,000 feet and was grounded. He had been drinking eight to ten
cups of coffee a day sweetened with Equal, another aspartame compound. Since
he quit aspartame, heís been seizure-free, but he hasnít been allowed to fly.
Q: We need to know more about this.
A: In my book,
Deadly Deception, thereís a reprint of a scientific paper
showing that aspartame aggravates abnormal brain waves in children with
epilepsy (Neurology 1992;42:1000-1003.)
Q: Maybe airline passengers should question pilots about aspartame use
before boarding! What about those U.S. Senate hearings during which pilots
testified about the adverse effects of aspartame on their flying abilities?
A: There have actually been three hearings.
Q: Here we go again!
A: Speaking of contributions... watch out diabetics! The
has given money, money, money to the American Diabetic Association. And,
remember when you hear a registered dietitian say aspartame is safe for
pregnant women, children, and everyone else, the Registered Dietitianís
professional association has been given $75,000 to expound on the virtues of
aspartame. The American Dietetic Association has even stated that the
NutraSweet company writes their "Fact Sheets."
Q: So, thereís money everywhere... to members of Congress, former
bureaucrats, professional associations...
Aspartame approval and persistence on the market has
everything to do with money and politics, and almost nothing to do with
science and reason. Even the FDAís own reviewers were against aspartame
until those political/financial events Iíve mentioned.
Q: Is there any hope to reverse all this?
A: Each of us will have to do it ourselves, one at a time and by spreading
the word. Fortunately, it appears that the public pays more attention to
this issue when theyíre given access to the information Iíve been outlining.
The last TV show I appeared on about this issue, received 100,000 calls over
the next three days.
Q: Thank you so much for devoting your time and energy to spreading the word
about the hazards of aspartame.
A: Your readers can call the
ASPARTAME CONSUMER SAFETY NETWORK at
(214)352-4268 for more information as well as many suggestions for helping
to make known the truth about aspartame.