Aspartame is an artificial sweetener used as a sugar substitute in soda pop and other foods. It was first synthesized in 1965, when it was being tested by James Schlatter, working for G.D. Searle Company, as an anti-ulcer drug. Schlatter discovered its sweet taste by accident. He was picking up some papers after having done an experiment, and licked his finger, as some people do when they need to lift one page from a stack of papers. His fingers had been contaminated with the substance he was testing. (Really? He never washed his hands after the experiment? What kind of researcher is this, anyway?)
In 1970, aspartame was first tested on primates. In the experiment, seven infant monkeys were given aspartame with milk. One of the monkeys died within 300 days. Five others experienced grand mal seizures. None of this data was ever used in the application G.D. Searle submitted to the FDA to get approval to use aspartame.
In 1971, Ann Reynolds, a researcher employed by G.D. Searle, confirmed aspartame's toxicity in the brains of infant mice. Searle totally ignored her discovery.
The FDA had reason to suspect that Searle's tests on aspartame were not entirely accurate, so they met with representatives of the company, who convinced them to allow a private agency (University Associated for Education in Pathology, or UAREP) to "validate" 12 studies that Searle had submitted to the FDA to get aspartame approved. Think about this: What if UAREP hadn't validated the tests after being paid $500,000? Would Searle have wanted their money back? Notice that the agency was hired to "validate" the tests, not to see whether the results of Searle's tests were unfounded. UAREP obviously did what it was hired to do.
Then another very interesting development occurred. In 1977, Donald Rumsfeld, a former member of the U.S. Congress and Chief of Staff in the Gerald Ford Administration, was hired as President and CEO of G.D. Searle. It has been alleged that Rumsfeld was hired to "facilitate" the aspartame approval process with the FDA. When he was hired by Searle, Rumsfeld was also on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Tribune newspaper. He wrote an "effusively positive article" about the NutraSweet Company. So much for objective and unbiased news...
In addition to the studies with the monkeys that I mentioned above, there was another report that indicated a number of irregularities in Searle's studies. Here are some findings, taken from the 1977 Bressler Report, which reported on three key aspartame studies:
In one study, 98 out of 196 animals died, but were not autopsied until as much as one year later. There were discrepancies between the original pathology sheets and the ones submitted to the FDA for 30 animals. One animal was reported alive at week 88, then dead between weeks 92 and 104, then miraculously alive again at week 108, then finally, permanently dead at week 112.
An outbreak of infectious disease among the animals in the study was not included in the report to the FDA. Tissue from some animals was noted to be "unavailable" for analysis on the pathology sheets, and yet results of analysis of this "unavailable" tissue were submitted to the FDA.
There were more irregularities, but you get the drift. However, the "statute of limitations" on the prosecution against Searle was allowed to expire. How did this happen? Well, let's see....
U.S. Attorney Samuel Skinner got a memo from the U.S. Justice Department in April of 1977, urging him to proceed quickly with the grand jury investigation of G.D. Searle. In July of that same year, Samuel Skinner left his U.S. Attorney position to work for.... G.D. Searle's law firm.
A fellow named Thomas Sullivan succeeded Skinner as U.S. Attorney. One of his assistants was William Conlon, who convened a grand jury, but allowed the Statute of Limitations to run out on the charges against the aspartame studies. Just over one year later, Conlon also left his job as Assistant U.S. Attorney and went to work for.... G.D. Searle's law firm. (Conlon was given a $15,000 bonus and requested to take a three-year sabbatical, while he was paid $60,000 a year for for his trouble, because he was deemed a "political liability" for the company. Well, duh...)
On January 21, 1981, the day after Ronald Reagan became the President of the United States, G.D. Searle reapplied for approval of aspartame, submitting new studies with that application. Rumsfeld told his sales force at that time that he intended to "call in all his markers" to get aspartame approved, and that is, apparently, what he did.
FDA scientists were still concerned about certain problems with aspartame's effects on the brain, but Rumsfeld managed to circumvent the FDA politically. In October of 1982, an amendment was attached to the Orphan Drug Act, which encouraged the development of drugs for rare diseases. The amendment extended a patent on one product– aspartame – by 5 years, 10 months and 17 days, but there was no mention of aspartame, specifically, or G.D. Searle, in the amendment. There was no discussion or debate on the amendment. It sailed right through. Aspartame was sold under the brand name NutraSweet.
G.D. Searle was acquired by Monsanto in 1985, which made Searle Pharmaceuticals and the NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries. In 2000, Monsanto sold NutraSweet to a private equity firm called J.W. Childs.
NutraSweet isn't the only manufacturer of aspartame. Ajinomoto, a Japanese company, acquired its aspartame business from Monsanto in 2000. It is now the world's largest aspartame manufacturer. This is the same company that is associated with the seasoning MSG, which is, like aspartame, also the subject of a great deal of controversy around possible side effects. Since 2009, Ajinomoto has been selling aspartame under the brand name AminoSweet, marketing it as a "natural" substance.
Meanwhile, 75 percent of all adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA involve aspartame. Reactions can be serious, and can cause death. Here are some of the reactions: headaches, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, irregular heartbeat and heart palpitations, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, difficulty breathing, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, ringing in the ears, vertigo, memory loss and joint pain.
Brain tumors, MS, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's disease, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer's disease, mental retardation, lymphoma, and diabetes can be made worse by ingestion of aspartame.
Meanwhile, aspartame can be found in over 6,000 products. Researchers and watchdog groups have concluded that, like a lot of other substances used in modern life, aspartame seems to cause slow, silent damage over the long term, even for those of us who do not have any immediate symptoms. Aspartame appears to have a profound effect on mood and brain function. This is one of those things that may never be found to have a direct cause and effect relationship with disease, but it nevertheless, is a factor in the general decline in the health of human beings. :-(
Aspartame (NutraSweet) appears to cause slow, silent damage in those unfortunate enough to not have immediate reactions and a reason to avoid it. It may take one year, five years, 10 years, or 40 years, but it seems to cause some reversible and some irreversible changes in health over long-term use." "Aspartame has a profound effect on mood and cognition....depressed mood, anxiety, dizziness, panic attacks, nausea, irritability, impairment of memory and concentration." - See more at: http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/ConsumerAlert/NutraSweet.aspx#sthash.gHSeHt2z.dpu
"Aspartame (NutraSweet) appears to cause slow, silent damage in those unfortunate enough to not have immediate reactions and a reason to avoid it. It may take one year, five years, 10 years, or 40 years, but it seems to cause some reversible and some irreversible changes in health over long-term use." "Aspartame has a profound effect on mood and cognition....depressed mood, anxiety, dizziness, panic attacks, nausea, irritability, impairment of memory and concentration." - See more at: http://www.shirleys-wellness-cafe.com/ConsumerAlert/NutraSweet.aspx#sthash.gHSeHt2z.dpuf