THE BITTER TRUTH ABOUT REGULATION OF SUGAR SUBSTITUTES
Carolyn Dean, MD, ND and
Those of us who champion pure, unadulterated natural food, natural medicinal products, natural nutritional supplements, products manufactured in a sanitary fashion, and accurate information (pro and con) available about how to use these products to restore and/or maximize our health, belong to what is known as the "health freedom movement". This movement started at the beginning of the 20th Century in reaction to a series of laws that were put into place to create an allopathic monopoly bound and determined to suppress all natural medical and health choices in favor of chemical, surgical, and high tech methods of addressing all manner of human conditions.
One of the first great leaders that rose to the challenge in our movement was none other than Harvey W. Wiley, MD, Chief Chemist in the Bureau of Chemistry at the U.S. Department of Agriculture for 29 years. Before he took his job at the USDA, Wiley had made a name for himself in his tireless efforts back home in Indiana as the watchdog at the State Board of Health analyzing the sugars and syrups sold in the state to make sure they were free of adulterations such as glucose, which he believed damaged the quality of natural sweeteners such as honey.
Once established in his post at the USDA, Wiley successfully helped Congress in answering their questions about the safety of food chemical preservatives. Then, in 1902, Wiley was granted $5,000 to actually study the health effects in humans when chemical preservatives, food coloring and other substances were put into foods. A true champion of the people's interest, Wiley enlisted the services of young, healthy volunteers, mostly employees of the Department of Agriculture. They agreed to follow a strict regime of natural foods, provided by the department, so that over a period of a month, a particular additive could be added to the food for testing. The idea was that if healthy young adult men had even the slightest adverse reactions, then unhealthy people, the young and the elderly would be even more vulnerable.
The criteria for these human tests was meticulous. Feces and urine were measured daily, and various other measurements were made along with noting if any physical or behavioral changes occurred such as fatigue, headaches, lack of appetite, indigestion and the like, at which time the subject would be put back on a pure diet.
The participants in the tests were named "the Poison Squad" and became the subject of national news stories as the public became more and more interested in how adulterations in food might affect their health. During this same period of time, interest in finally passing a pure food law came to fruition thanks to the vigorous work of Wiley, who wanted to see that the federal government had the authority to force removal of all manner of chemical preservatives and other additives from America's food supply.
Called The Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, (please note the emphasis on the word "pure") this new law gave Wiley the authority he sought to start cleaning up the food supply. His Poison Squad studies, some of which had been published by the government printing office, had shown that many health problems were caused by the presence of an array of chemical additives in food.
As the studies progressed, hearings were held on each additive and disgruntled manufactures saw the handwriting on the wall as certain additives proved to be problematic to health. Each sought an exemption for their particular additives and in one rather amusing case, a witness from California testified that there was an absolute need to approve sulphur dioxide for use in dry fruits otherwise the industry would be ruined. This testimony was reported in the afternoon papers and by evening, this same witness went to Wiley privately to confess that his wife insisted that he report that she refused to allow any sulphur dioxide fruit in the house as she believed it to be undesirable. Wiley shared this confession with his colleagues before the next day's hearing began.
One such additive on the ropes was the artificial sweetener, saccharin and herein lies the incredible tale of how the Pure Food and Drug Act was sidetracked from its original purpose by none other than the great "populist" president, Teddy Roosevelt. As the story goes, some years earlier, two chemists, Constantine Fahlberg and Ira Remsen, had accidentally discovered saccharin during other chemical research. Fahlberg later patented the substance, then, later still, John Queeny founded a company he named after his wife's family, Monsanto, to manufacture the product.
It was well known that Wiley was opposed to allowing saccharin to remain in the food supply. Going over Wiley's head, immediately after the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed, future Vice President of the United States, James S. Sherman, then of the Sherman Brothers food manufacturing firm, met with President Roosevelt to discuss the fact that his firm had saved $4,000 the previous year using saccharin, rather than sugar in the company's canned corn.
Wiley, who was present at the meeting, explained to Roosevelt that saccharin was made from coal tar, totally devoid of food value and injurious to health. Roosevelt, who was trying to control his weight and had been advised by his personal physician to use the sweetener chose to believe his doctor and challenged Wiley's explanation, to which Wiley replied, "Mr. President, he probably thinks you may be threatened with diabetes." Roosevelt angrily replied, "Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot."
The following day, Roosevelt undermined Wiley and appointed Ira Remsen (who discovered saccharin), President of Johns Hopkins University, to head up a Referee Board later to be known as the Remsen Board to protect the interests of the chemical industry. The Remsen board became very successful in blocking any authority Wiley had to remove adulterants from the food supply. Then, over the next several years, bit by bit, regardless of the law, the authority to police chemicals in food, was transferred out of the Bureau of Chemistry.
Finally, thoroughly disgusted, Wiley quit. His departure was noted by the Rocky Mountain News, under the caption, "The Borgias of Business."
Fortunately, Wiley's saga didn't end there. While giving up on any hope of honest oversight of food from government agencies, in the true never-say-die tradition of real health freedom fighters, Wiley set up the Good Housekeeping Bureau of Foods, Sanitation and Health, where voluntary evaluations of consumer products were to be conducted. Even today their findings are published in Good Housekeeping magazine. In addition, in 1929, Wiley wrote a detailed account of the destruction of the purpose of the Pure Food and Drug Act in a book he entitled, THE HISTORY OF A CRIME AGAINST THE FOOD LAW - The Amazing Story of the National Food and Drugs Law Intended to Protect the Health of the People Perverted to Protect Adulteration of Food and Drugs.
Some years later the modern FDA was created to oversee regulation of all foods and drugs and by 1970, a fresh-out-of-law-school lawyer by the name of James S. Turner became the next gladiator in the fight in an attempt to protect the public from unsafe food additives. Turner, one of Ralph Nader's original "Nader's Raiders", a cadre of young lawyers out to make government work right, eventually published a book on the failings of the FDA called, "The Chemical Feast: the Nader Report on the Food and Drug Administration".
A short time later, Turner, largely at his own expense, made every effort to keep aspartame off the market. And what a fight it was.
As Turner described it, G.D. Searle, a drug company whose scientists had discovered aspartame quite by accident and a company with little experience in food regulation, made the motions of complying with the law, but screwed up royally. Early tests showed aspartame produced microscopic holes and tumors in the brains of experimental mice and epileptic seizures in monkeys. Animal tests also showed that aspartame was converted to dangerous substances such as formaldehyde.
Despite all this information, in 1974, the FDA approved aspartame as a dry-foods additive. But in an unusual action, the FDA made public the data supporting its decision, which prompted renowned brain researcher John Olney of Washington University in St. Louis and other scientists to openly question aspartame's safety. This forced a public review on the matter. By the time all sorts of other investigations were conducted, Searle's methods of research on a wide range of products were condemned and criminal liability charges were being discussed.
The U.S. Attorney for Chicago also sought a grand jury review of one of the studies. However, herein lies another tale of opportunistic and self-serving politicians. This same U.S. Attorney let the statute of limitations on his grand jury review run out. Then, along with two of his aides, proceeded to join Searle's law firm.
Meanwhile the federal investigations ground on. In October of 1980, the Board of Inquiry appointed by the FDA, blocked aspartame from being marketed until the tumor studies at issue could be explained. Only the Commissioner of the FDA could overrule this decision.
In November 1980, Ronald Reagan was elected President and Donald Rumsfeld (former congressman from Skokie, who had served in several Cabinet posts during both the Nixon and Ford Administrations, and since January of 1977 had been president of Searle), joined the Reagan transition team.
In January of 1981, Rumsfeld told a sales meeting that he would call in his chips to see that aspartame would be approved by the end of the year. And the rest is history. The day after Reagan was sworn in, he issued an executive order to suspend the power of the current FDA Commissioner to act on any matter. The next month Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes became Commissioner. By July, Hayes, ignoring FDA advisors, made his first major decision in office and approved the use of aspartame for dry foods.
Ironically, in November of 1983, Dr. Hayes' last official decision was to approve aspartame for soft drinks. That same month, under fire for accepting corporate gifts, he left the agency and was welcomed with open arms by Searle's public relations firm as senior medical advisor.
A short time after that, Monsanto, still manufacturing saccharin, bought Searle and Rumsfeld, still president of Searle, received a $12 million bonus.
However, the problems with aspartame didn't stop. By 1995, thousands of reports had been filed detailing serious problems, which Searle's scientists and the FDA's deputy commissioner said posed no problem. Two years later, this same FDA official became vice president of clinical research for Searle, and aspartame remains on the market to this day.
A documentary called "Sweet Misery" documents this entire affair and is available to the public for sale.
During much of the time the aspartame scandal was in high gear, a little known natural sweetener, stevia, was making its way into American markets. According to the American Herbal Products Association in an affirmation petition submitted to the FDA in 1992, "Stevia leaf is a natural product that has been used for at least 400 years as a food product, principally as a sweetener or other flavoring agent. None of this common usage in foods has indicated any evidence of safety problem. There are no reports of any government agency in any of the above countries indicating any public health concern whatsoever in connection with the use of stevia in foods."
The Thomas J. Lipton Company, in a petition to the FDA, cited over 120 articles about stevia written before 1958 and over 900 articles as of 1995. The Ambassador to Paraguay where stevia is grown, in a letter to the FDA (1993), pointed out that stevia is a completely safe health promoting herb and in its refined form, in Japan, it held 41% of the sweetener market. (Aspartame is banned in Japan.)
Yet, despite glowing reports on stevia, products have been confiscated from stevia manufacturers; thousands of stevia cookbooks have been burned by order of the FDA; and the industry is unable to have stevia approved as a safe food additive. In the convoluted logic of FDA officials only Washington insiders can understand, stevia is currently allowed to be sold as a stand-alone "dietary supplement" or an herb, if properly labeled as such, but not as a sweetener.
In FDA parlance, "If Stevia is used in a dietary supplement for a technical effect, such as use as a sweetener or flavoring agent, and is labeled as such, it is considered an UNSAFE FOOD ADDITIVE."
Millions of Americans in the health freedom movement are grateful we can get our hands on stevia, and use it as a sweetener. However, the stevia story reinforces our skepticism of the longtime behavior of FDA officials in their job to protect the public from unsafe food. Based on decades of this same anti-natural products regulatory doublespeak and harsh enforcement activity, we look at every bill introduced in Congress to ratchet up the FDA's authority to "regulate" nutritional supplements (read remove from the market) as yet another potential threat to our health.
Our question to every American, who upon learning of 100 years of the sorry politics instead of honest regulation of sugar substitutes is this, "Would you buy a used car from this agency?"
If your answer is "no", we urge you to contact your U.S. Representative immediately, and ask him or her to reject H.R. 3156 "Dietary Supplement Access and Awareness Act". This bill is loaded with draconian regulatory doublespeak all geared to grant authority for government officials to remove supplements from the market, at whim, without showing any evidence of harm. Current law (the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994) requires the FDA to have REAL evidence of harm before removing dietary supplement products from the market.
Misery - Documentary
FOR HEALTH FREEDOM NOW:
Go to www.friendsoffreedominternational.org and click on your elected representatives and tell them to Say NO to CAFTA and Don't Touch DSHEA in Any Way! Purchase "Death by Modern Medicine" and view and purchase the new movie on Codex and Free Trade called "We Become Silent" by Kevin Miller. Proceeds from the sale of these products are crucial to help fund our health freedom action.
� 2005 Carolyn Dean -
All Rights Reserved
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Dr. Carolyn Dean is a medical doctor, naturopathic doctor, herbalist, acupuncturist, nutritionist, as well as a powerful health activist fighting for health freedom as president of Friends of Freedom International. Dr. Dean is the author of over a dozen health books, the latest of which is "Death By Modern Medicine".
Elissa Meininger, is Vice President of Friends of Freedom International and co-founder of the Health Freedom Action Network, a grassroots citizens' political action group. She is also a health freedom political analyst and can be heard on the natural health radio show SuperHealth, broadcast weekly on station WKY (SuperTalk AM 930) in Oklahoma City.
By 1995, thousands of reports had been filed detailing serious problems, which Searle's scientists and the FDA's deputy commissioner said posed no problem. Two years later, this same FDA official became vice president of clinical research for Searle...