Monsanto's claims about the safety of Nutrasweet are false, noted physician writes

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Rebuttal to Nutrasweet's claims that it is not dangerous

To: Team Nutrasweet Monsanto
Date: 2/2/99
Re: Correcting Internet Myths About NutraSweet

In your response to the email article regarding the dangers of aspartame, you have presented a one-sided self-serving polemic defending your potentially dangerous product. By ignoring the scientific studies which disagree with your position, you are doing a great disservice to consumers. Further, you may have created a base for litigation against your company by denying the existing science.

As one example, your comment that "formate is quickly eliminated by the body" is demonstrably false. Your response states that "the body converts the methanol to formaldehyde which is instantly converted to a metabolite called formate." The study done by Trocho et al., Formaldehyde derived from dietary aspartame binds to tissue components in vivo. Life Sciences 63:5:p.337-49, 1998, clearly demonstrates cellular persistence and accumulation, or in layman's terms, that formaldehyde can remain and accumulate in the body.

As another example, you claim that tomato juice contains methanol (commonly known as wood alcohol). "Team Nutrasweet" says in their response "there is four to five times more methanol obtained from a serving of tomato juice than from an equivalent volume of beverage sweetened with aspartame." I challenge your make-up artists to scientifically demonstrate that wood alcohol is present in tomato juice at the levels you allege. On the other hand, upon chemical analysis, methanol will be found in aspartame, as it is a basic component of this substance.

As to the incidence of neurologic degenerative diseases, Monsanto's response claims there has been no change in Alzheimer's disease, MS, lupus, and other diseases. Yet many sources tell a different story. (Evans, et al. Prevalence of Probable Alzheimer's Disease in persons aged 85 and older, JAMA 262 (1989)2531-2556; Blaylock R, Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills, Health Press, 1998, p. 107; and Lilienfeld et al: Two Decades of Increasing Mortality from Parkinson's Disease among the US Elderly, Arch Neurol 47(1990):731-734.) But then again, Team Nutrasweet's spin doctors appear to not be interested in studies which don't promote the use of their product.

There is overwhelming scientific evidence that Nutrasweet can pose a serious health danger. I applaud the Internet's remarkable capacity to transmit the truth beyond the reach of your corporate advertising dollars.

George R. Schwartz, M.D.

A native of Caribou, Maine, Dr. Schwartz, a respected toxicologist did his undergraduate work at Hobart College in Geneva, New York, and then attained his doctor of medicine degree magna cum laude from the State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center. He received internship and residency training in Seattle, Washington, Indiana and New York City.

Dr Schwartz is the editor of "Principles and Practice of Emergency Medicine" (Lippincott-Williams & Wilkins, 4th edition, 1998). Additionally, he authored two books about food supplements:"Food Power" (McGraw-Hill, 1979), and "In Bad Taste: The MSG Symptom Complex" (Health Press, 1999)