How Sweet It Is Essay

949 WordsNov 7, 20114 Pages
How Sweet It Is Nearly four decades ago, James Schlatter, a chemist for the pharmaceutical giant G.D. Searle Company, discovered an artificial sweetener while searching for an anti-ulcer drug. Nearly 180 times sweeter than sugar, aspartame was boasted as a calorie free alternative to sucrose. Searle quickly moved to have aspartame approved for human consumption and succeeded seven years later, in 1981, thus, rocketing the sweetener into American dietary foods without a full grasp of the potential negative health effects. Pro-aspartame sources contend that it is one of the most tested products in American history but lack the scientific references to substantiate the claim. Opponents to aspartame claim that political influence was behind the approval of the sweetener, and therefore demanded that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) distance itself from privatized companies in order to oversee the health of all Americans. In 1974, aspartame was approved for use by the FDA under limited use. However, “following the 1974 approval, the FDA learned Searle may have hidden testing evidence with regard to the risks of aspartame” (Cadena). While investigating Searle’s testing results, the FDA discovered that studies revealed scientific dishonesty that included tumor developments in a strain of rats “which rarely develops tumors unless exposed to a carcinogenic substance” (Klotter). The white, powdery substance breaks down into three parts: two amino acids and methanol. The two amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid comprise ninety percent of aspartame. These amino acids, also known as neurotransmitters, are used by the brain to carry chemical signals between neurons. The neurons are stimulated out of control by the amino acids and cause neural death, or permanent brain damage at the cellular level. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is broken down by the bodies’ enzymes

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