Tag Archives: Saccharin

Monsanto’s 5 Evil Contributions

Foodfacts.com recently discovered an article on Takepart.com that basically summarizes the products that Monsanto is credited for. Take a look at the list below, and wonder if Monsanto really has human health as one of their top priorities.

By Oliver Lee.

Oh, Monsanto, you sly dog.

You keep trying to make us believe you are “committed to sustainable agriculture” with your canny advertisements on American Public Media, even as you force-feed farmers your lab-grown Frankenseeds that expire every year (which are, let’s be honest, opposite of sustainable).

But we shouldn’t be surprised by the mixed message, should we? After all, you’ve been doing this for decades. With long-running corporate sponsorships like Disney’s Tomorrowland building reserves of goodwill as you spray us with DDT, it’s clear you’re entitled to send out products into the world with nary an environmental or health concern—just as long as you spend a bit of that hard-earned cash convincing us otherwise.

On that note, let’s take a quick look at some of the biotech giant’s most dubious contributions to society over their past century in business.
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1. Saccharin

Monsanto burst onto the scene in 1901 with the artificial sweetener saccharin, which it sold to Coca-Cola and canned food companies as a sugar replacement.
Sweet, low, and according to the FDA, no longer carcinogenic. (Photo: costco.com)

But as early as 1907, the health effects of the sweetener were being questioned by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists.

“Everyone who ate that sweet [canned] corn was deceived,” said Harvey Wiley, the first commissioner of the FDA. “He thought he was eating sugar, when in point of fact he was eating a coal tar product totally devoid of food value and extremely injurious to health.”

After enjoying decades of unfettered consumption, the sweetener was slapped with a warning label in the ’70s when it was found to cause cancer in lab rats.

A subsequent three-decade effort by Monsanto to reverse the decision finally won out in 2001. After all, how could a product derived from coal tar not be safe for consumption?
styrofoam
2) Polystyrene

By the ’40s, Monsanto had moved on to oil-based plastics, including polystyrene foam (also known as styrofoam).
This cup will be still be here in a thousand years. (Photo: nationalaquarium.wordpress.com)

As most of us are aware by now, polystyrene foam is an environmental disaster. Not only is there nothing out there that biodegrades it, it breaks off into tiny pieces that choke animals, harm marine life, and release cancer-causing benzene into the environment for a thousand years or more.

“Polystyrene foam products rely on nonrenewable sources for production, are nearly indestructible and leave a legacy of pollution on our urban and natural environments,” said San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Aaron Peskin in 2007. “If McDonald’s could see the light and phase out polystyrene foam more than a decade ago, it’s about time San Francisco got with the program.”

Despite the ovewhelming evidence against it, the noxious containers are still pervasive elsewhere around the country. Amazingly, they were even voted to be reintroduced into House cafeterias by Republicans earlier this year.
agent_orange_epandage
3) Agent Orange

First developed as an herbicide and defoliant, Agent Orange was used infamously as a military weapon by the U.S. Army during Vietnam to remove the dense foliage of the jungle canopy.
This is what Agent Orange exposure looks like.

In the process, they dumped over 12 million gallons of the potent chemical cocktail—described by Yale biologist Arthur Galston as “perhaps the most toxic molecule ever synthesized by man”—over towns, farms, and water supplies during a nine-year period.

“When [military scientists] initiated the herbicide program in the 1960s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. . .,” said Dr. James R. Clary, a former government scientist with the Chemical Weapons Branch. “However, because the material was to be used on the ‘enemy,’ none of us were overly concerned.”

According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that lack of concern led to 4.8 million exposures to the herbicide, along with 400,000 deaths and disfigurements and 500,000 babies born with birth defects.
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4) Bovine Growth Hormone

Did you know the United States is the only developed nation that permits the sale of milk from cows given artificial growth hormones?
Nothing like the taste of hormones in the morning. (Photo: bigteaparty.com)

With the lone exception of Brazil, the rest of the developed world—including all 27 countries of the European Union, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia—has banned growth hormone use in milk destined for human consumption.

Why all the lact-haters? Milk derived from hormone-injected cows shows higher levels of cancer-causing hormones and lower nutritional value, leading even the most stubborn U.S. courts to rule in favor of separate labels for hormone-free milk.

“The milk we drink today is quite unlike the milk our ancestors were drinking without apparent harm for 2,000 years,” said Harvard scientist Ganmaa Davaasambuu. “The milk we drink today may not be nature’s perfect food.”

According to the Center for Food Safety, thanks to increased consumer demand (and certain movies), approximately 60 percent of milk in the U.S. is rBST-free today.
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5) Genetically-Modified Seeds

Not content to do mere incidental damage to the environment, Monsanto decided to get to the root of the matter in the ’80s: seeds.
Just remember: We are what we eat. (Photo: deminvest.wordpress.com)

But with much fuss being made over the company’s aggressive scare tactics and rampant mass-patenting, the biotech giant has, true to form, fought back with a multimillion-dollar marketing and advertising campaign featuring smiling children and making outlandish claims that “biotech foods could help end world hunger.”

“Unless I’m missing something,” wrote Michael Pollan in The New York Times Magazine, “the aim of this audacious new advertising campaign is to impale people like me—well-off first-worlders dubious about genetically engineered food—on the horns of a moral dilemma…If we don’t get over our queasiness about eating genetically modified food, kids in the Third World will go blind.”

What’s clear is that no matter what its justification, Monsanto is a) never giving away all these seeds for free; and b) rendering them sterile so that farmers need to re-up every year, making it difficult to believe that the company could possibly have the planet’s best intentions at heart.

“By peddling suicide seeds, the biotechnology multinationals will lock the world’s poorest farmers into a new form of genetic serfdom,” says Emma Must of the World Development Movement. “Currently 80 percent of crops in developing countries are grown using farm-saved seed.”

“Being unable to save seeds from sterile crops could mean the difference between surviving and going under.”

(TakePart.com)

Artificial Sweeteners

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Artificial Sweeteners

A major topic among Foodfacts.com readers and foodies alike are the amounts of artificial sweeteners in processed foods, and their possibly damaging properties. Diet sodas, juices, breakfast foods, and thousands of other products contain aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, neotame, or acesulfame potassium. These five artificial sweeteners have been tested and approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as food additives.

However, heavy debates continue over some of these sweeteners as to whether or not they are truly safe. Despite their assistance in rising obesity numbers, increased cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and tooth decay; markets are still pushing these low-calorie additives to make huge profits. Below is a brief history of some of these controversial sugar substitutions. What do you think of these sweeteners??

Saccharin also known as “Sweet n’ Low”
Saccharin was unintentionally discovered in 1879 by Johns Hopkins University Scientists trying to concoct a miracle drug. What these scientists found was that this non-nutritive coal-tar derivative was approximately 300 times sweeter than that of sugar. Just a few short years later saccharin was being widely used as a food additive in most processed and canned foods.

In 1907, under the Pure Food and Drug Act, a top food safety agent for the USDA investigated saccharin as a possibly illegal substitution of a valuable ingredient. President at the time, Theodore Roosevelt, opposed this idea and stated, “Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot.” A few short days later, this top food safety agent opposing saccharin was released from his position with the USDA.

In 1970, saccharin was presented with a warning label after studies found that this non-nutritive sweetener was causing tumor-growth in bladders of rodents. However, these labels were lifted from saccharin in the early 2000s after scientists frantically justified that rodents may have different pH, calcium, and protein levels in their urine which may lead to bladder cancer with or without saccharin. In late 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency removed saccharin from their long list of hazardous substances, deeming it a safe product.

Aspartame also known as “NutraSweet/Equal”
Coincidentally, aspartame was also unintentionally discovered in 1965 when scientist, James Schlatter, was trying to discover a preventative ulcer drug. As Schlatter was mixing amino acids, asparatic acid and phenylalanine, he decided to taste the product. After realizing its immediate sweetness, he realized he may have struck gold with this accidental product. This was the day that aspartame was first discovered as the next low-calorie artificial sweetener.

Aspartame underwent several trials and tests before a pharmaceutical company, GD Searle & Co decided to manufacture the product. After the popularity of saccharin was slowly on the downfall due to lab results showing bladder cancer in rats, Schlatter and GD Searle decided to petition for FDA’s approval of aspartame, hoping to release their product into the sugar-crazed market.

The scientist and GD Searle included lab results within their petition, proving safety and validity of their product. Around 1974, the FDA approved aspartame as a food additive, but only for certain foods. However, after further speculation, the FDA later found deficiencies in GD Searle’s operations and practices, requiring aspartame to undergo more vigorous testing and clinical trials, before once again receiving approval.

For years now aspartame has gone through various clinical trials and lab testing to validate its safety for human consumption. A study was done by Olney in 1996 regarding the safety of aspartame. This study suggested that the introduction of aspartame into the United States consumer market in 1975, to 1992, was associated with an increased number of subjects diagnosed with brain tumors. This caused a major damper for manufacturers as people now feared what would occur if they continued to eat and drink products loaded with this sweetener. What was once deemed a “miracle sugar” quickly became a “cancer sugar.”

In 2006, the National Cancer Institute conducted a study with approximately half a million people to determine the mentioned link between cancer and aspartame. The study compared subjects that consumed beverages with aspartame, with subjects that did not. Results showed that increased levels of consumption of this sweetener had no positive association with any lymphomas, leukemia, or brain cancers in men and women. Aspartame is still approved by the FDA, and since 1996, is now allowed to be used in all foods.

Sucralose also known as “Splenda”
Sucralose was created in 1976 by a major British-based agribusiness, Tate & Lyle. One of their tests involved a chlorinated sugar compound. Scientist, Shashikant Phadnis, decided after creating the product to taste it, and discovered it was exceptionally sweet. It was immediately patent in 1976 by Tate & Lyle.

Sucralose (or Splenda) was first approved to be used as a food additive in Canada in 1991. Soon after, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, and the European Union followed. As of 2008, Splenda has been approved in over 80 countries. This product is deemed safe by a number of organizations including the FDA, Joint Food & Agriculture Organization, and Center for Science in the Public Interest. According to the Canadian Diabetes Association, the amount of sucralose that may be consumed over a person’s lifetime without any adverse effects is 9mg/kg/day.

The Food and Drug Administration has reviewed hundreds of clinical trials involving both animals and humans that show no harmful long-term results of the consumption of sucralose. However, adverse events reported by consumers include enlarged liver & kidneys, thymus shrinkage, nausea, vomiting, headache, and weight loss.

What are your thoughts on these sweeteners?

Get to know the controversial Food Additive known as Saccharin

saccharin
Saccharin
An artificial sweetener 300 to 500 times sweeter than sugar. Discovered in 1879, it’s the oldest of the five FDA-approved artificial sweeteners. Starting in 1907, the USDA began investigating saccharin as a direct result of the Pure Food and Drug Act. Harvey Wiley, then the director of the bureau of chemistry for the USDA, viewed it as an illegal substitution of a valuable ingredient (sugar) by a less valuable ingredient. In a clash that had career consequences, Wiley told then President Theodore Roosevelt that “Everyone who ate that sweet corn was deceived. He thought he was eating sugar, when in point of fact he was eating a coal tar product totally devoid of food value and extremely injurious to health.” But Roosevelt himself was a consumer of saccharin, and in a heated exchange, Roosevelt angrily answered Wiley by stating, “Anybody who says saccharin is injurious to health is an idiot.”[15] The episode proved the undoing of Wiley’s career.

In 1911, the Food Inspection Decision 135 stated that foods containing saccharin were adulterated. However in 1912, Food Inspection Decision 142 stated that saccharin was not harmful.

More controversy was stirred in 1969 with the discovery of files from the FDA’s investigations of 1948 and 1949. These investigations, which had originally argued against saccharin use, were shown to prove little about saccharin being harmful to human health. In 1972 the USDA made an attempt to completely ban the substance.[16] However, this attempt was also unsuccessful and the sweetener is widely used in the United States; it is the third-most popular after sucralose and aspartame.

In the European Union saccharin is also known by the E number (additive code) E954.

The current status of saccharin is that it is allowed in most countries, and countries like Canada are considering lifting their previous ban of it as a food additive.[17] The concerns that it is associated with bladder cancer were proved to be without foundation in experiments on primates.[18]

Saccahrin was formerly on California’s list of chemicals known to the state to cause cancer for the purposes of Proposition 65, but it was delisted in 2001

FOUND IN Diet foods, chewing gum, toothpaste, beverages, sugar-free candy, and Sweet ‘N Low.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW Rat studies in the early ‘70s showed saccharin to cause bladder cancer, and the FDA, reacting to these studies, enacted a mandatory warning label to be printed on every saccharin-containing product. The label was removed after 20 years, but the question over saccharin’s safety was never resolved. More recent studies show that rats on saccharin-rich diets gain more weight than those on high-sugar diets.