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FDA Approves Stevia, Ends the Era of Oppression of this Herbal Sweetener - UPDATE 1

By Mike Adams, December 19, 2008 | Key concepts: Stevia, Truvia and FDA

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Update note: This breaking news article has been updated from its original version to clarify the nature of the FDA's GRAS "approval" for stevia. In the original breaking news, we reported that the FDA had granted GRAS approval to stevia. Technically, the FDA has only issued letters of "no objection" regarding companies' self-affirmation of GRAS approval for stevia. In other words, the FDA hasn't technically granted approval to stevia but has affirmed it will not object to companies using it in foods and beverages. This puts stevia in a "grey zone" where the FDA could potentially target selected companies (small stevia producers) while ignoring other companies (Coca-Cola and Cargill, for example), even while they use essentially the same sweeteners.

The rest of the original breaking news article, shown below, has been corrected to account for this clarification.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued letters of non-objection for the use of a natural, zero-calorie sweetener it once sought to wipe out from the U.S. marketplace. Following political pressure from powerful consumer product corporations (Coca-Cola and Pepsi, primarily), the FDA has once again fallen in step with the interests of Big Business and legalized a food and beverage ingredient that it once aggressively oppressed.

In this case, however, the approval of this ingredient happens to be in the best interests of consumers. Why? Because it will largely replace aspartame, an artificial sweetener chemical linked to numerous neurological disorders, including headaches, eye disorders and other problems.

It will also unleash a wave of stevia-sweetened products for consumers, and that's good news for diabetics or anyone seeking healthier products sweetened with an herbal extract rather than a synthetic chemical.

I publicly predicted this FDA decision just two weeks ago an article containing thirty-one predictions for 2009 (http://www.naturalnews.com/024976.html). The FDA's approval of stevia is prediction #8, for those keeping track. (Interestingly, at least two of the top 13 predictions for 2009 have already come true in the last month of 2008!)

The circumstances surrounding this FDA approval of stevia reveal yet again the true loyalties of the agency. When stevia threatened the profits of aspartame, it was routinely suppressed by the agency. FDA thugs seized imports of stevia at the border, destroyed millions of dollars in stevia products, threatened companies with fines for daring to sell stevia, and even ordered one company to destroy its recipe books that mentioned stevia in dessert recipes. But now, when Coca-Cola and Pepsi want stevia approved, the FDA suddenly reverses its oppression and decides to legalize the herb.

Again, this is a rare case where the FDA's decision benefits consumers, but the circumstances behind the decision were in no way motivated by consumer interest. They were motivated by corporate profits.

Betty Martini's victory

What's so profitable about stevia? Well, thanks to the efforts of Betty Martini and others who have been warning about the dangers of aspartame, word has spread across the 'net to the point where informed consumers no longer want to consume aspartame at all. In other words, the aspartame opponents succeeded in destroying the consumer acceptability of aspartame! And that led the big players (Coke, Pepsi, etc.) to look for something that would be more acceptable to consumers.

That search led them to stevia. And once Big Business got behind the herb, it was only a matter of time before the FDA caved in to commercial interests and legalized the herb.

Realize this crucial point: The FDA's decisions these days are based entirely on corporate profits and have absolutely nothing to do with science, safety or consumer interests. Remember, it was just a few days ago that the FDA declared infants, children and even pregnant women could now eat essentially unlimited quantities of mercury in fish, without any negative health consequences whatsoever! This is the same agency that says children can "safely" eat melamine, bisphenol-A, MSG, sodium nitrite and all sorts of other dangerous, toxic substances that harm human health.

So don't be fooled for a minute into thinking that the FDA's approval of stevia has anything to do with serving the People.

Stevia victory!

Nevertheless, this approval of stevia stands as a major consumer victory. And I want to take a minute to applaud three people who deserve big-time credit for spreading the word about aspartame, thereby creating demand for stevia that has finally led to its approval:

• Dr. Betty Martini (http://www.mpwhi.com/main.htm)
• Jeff Rense (www.Rense.com)
• Dr. Russell Blaylock (www.RussellBlaylockMD.com)

There are many others, of course, and even NaturalNews may deserve some credit (I've been promoting stevia for ten years now), but the main credit goes to Dr. Betty Martini who has fought aspartame for well over a decade.

In fact, the approval of stevia is paving the way for the banning of aspartame! And I predict aspartame will eventually be banned or removed from the GRAS list, but that would have never happened unless an alternative were available. Stevia is that alternative.

Is Cargill's stevia really safe?

There is some speculation that the patented stevia being used by Coca-Cola, Pepsi and other big businesses is in some way less natural than the traditional stevia we've been buying at health food stores for years. Some have wondered how their patented stevia (Truvia) could actually be patented unless there were some synthetic molecules in it.

It's a reasonable question, but at the moment, I'm not aware of any evidence of Truvia being adulterated or synthesized in any way at all. In fact, I personally welcome the ingredient and applaud Cargill for pressuring the FDA into getting this GRAS approved. There is no evidence I'm aware of that their stevia is genetically modified or altered in any way. Of course, if such evidence emerges, I'll make it available here on NaturalNews, but at the moment I'm supporting this Truvia ingredient and would even consume it myself. That's always subject to change if new information emerges, of course.

Sherry Weiss Poall, who works for the RF Binder public relations agency that serves Cargill, has been distributing safety research data about Truvia since July, 2008, but since those studies were paid for by Cargill, many people might dismiss their objectivity.

In any case, I believe that the natural health community should cautiously embrace this ingredient for the time being. It is, after all, a hugely positive move for the food and beverage industry to be able to ditch aspartame and shift to an herbal sweetener. If anything, this is a monumental victory for natural health over synthetic chemicals. It's a victory that took over a decade to become a reality, but it has finally arrived in the United States thanks to this late decision by a reluctant FDA.

Watch for stevia-sweetened products to appear on store shelves everywhere. You'll also see lots of formulations that will combine stevia with other sweeteners to provide higher sweetness with fewer overall calories (and a lower glycemic index).

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