Posted: 08 September 2009
This article while dated 1987 is very valuable on the anti-aspartame issue. Dr. Richard Wurtman is a brilliant MIT scientist. He has not only written many reports on the dangers of aspartame but also has a book he edited, "Dietary Phenylalanine and Brain Function." He testified before Congress and here is just one of his comments: http://www.wnho.net/congressionalrecord.htm If you want a copy of this book you have to get a used copy as I understand Dr. Wurtman has had it taken off the market.
Dr. Wurtman being threatened is in the original UPI Investigation: http://www.mpwhi.com/upi_1987_aspartame_report.pdf His research funds were rejected as Searle VP Dr. Gerald Gaull told him they would be if he did studies on aspartame and seizures. If aspartame were safe there would have been no reason to be afraid studies would show seizures. Researchers at MIT surveyed 80 people who suffered brain seizures after eating or drinking products with aspartame. Said the Community Nutrition Institute: "These 80 cases meets the FDA's own definition of an imminent hazard to the public health, which requires the FDA to expeditiously remove a product from the market." I wrote an amendment to a Citizens Petition to ban on October 27, 2007, because of this imminent hazard: http://www.mpwhi.com/amendment_to_citizens_petition.htm The law requires the FDA answer in 7 to 10 days. They ignored it as they did the original citizens petition to ban written 7 years ago. The law states they must answer in 180 days. This shows you the FDA serves above the law. They know aspartame is poison and I've used their own words, so they ignore answering because they have no defense. The FDA Report itself listing 92 documented symptoms including death admits to 4 different types of seizures triggered by aspartame. However, Dr. Wurtman has left a paper trail, which reports his knowledge of aspartame being a seizure triggering drug.
I remember when Dr. H. J. Roberts and myself attended the American College of Physicians conference here in Atlanta, the first thing the neurology professor said was: "Can anyone tell me why people all over this country are having seizures for no good reason, even if its off the wall." I explained and after I spoke a physician who is also a pilot said, "I'm afraid she's right. I have a friend who flies commercially, uses aspartame and has seizures, and he will have to be reported."
Someone in the UK told me the story of when an employee of the bottling company there had a seizure he called the aspartame manufacturer. They sent out an agent who told the man that he was the only one who had ever complained of a seizure. He happened to leave his folder there, which was flooded with letters to consumers saying the same thing, no other seizures reported. To make matters worse on this issue, aspartame interacts with anti-seizure medication as discussed in the medical text, Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, http://www.sunsentpress.com by H. J. Roberts, M.D. It keeps getting worse as aspartame has actually been added to anti-seizure medication.
William Reid, someone on my husband's side of the family was having 6 or 8 seizures a day and his family was told he wouldn't live through the day. We got him off NutraSweet and immediately his seizures ceased. That was over 12 years ago and he is still alive.
You could write day and night on the aspartame seizure victims they are so common. Barbara Metzler's (Mission Possible New Jersey) daughter, Julia is another victim. Barbara wrote to Dr. Wurtman in 1999: "This truly bright girl -- (whose college tuition was entirely funded by scholarships) -- realized that she was experiencing periods of confusion. She would go to a grocery store and couldn't remember why she was there. She would be driving her car and couldn't remember how to get home. Among other disturbances, she had severe headaches. I spoke to her many friends, and they all watched her carefully and reported individually that these episodes occurred shortly after they saw her drink diet soda. She began to lose her vision. She eventually had a drastic personality change and intellectual deterioration.
"After four months, her friends and her family convinced her to go to Boston to Brigham and Women's hospital for special studies on her brain. Although I wrote directly to you several times, Julia never had the opportunity to see you, Dr. Wurtman, but she was there with her father for three days and was seen by Dr. Frank Drislane and Dr. Paul Spiers. She was told that she had been misdiagnosed by the local neurologist and that she did not have temporal lobe epilepsy. She was advised to stop her medication and to stop drinking diet soda. She listened, and little by little, all of her bizarre symptoms disappeared. To see her recover was an incredible experience!"
Another case was that of Mary Reiff. She had an aspartame seizure while driving and ended up in the hospital. She was then declared legally blind. Mary was on the Debra Duncan show with me in Texas and at that time her seizures had ceased off aspartame and her vision had returned to normal. You can understand why it's so necessary to alert the public. Some people remain in darkness simply because they haven't been told that the free methyl alcohol in aspartame destroys vision. Consider the aviation issue: http://www.mpwhi.com/pilot_aspartame_alert.htm.
Today, MIT gets research funds but Dr. Wurtman no longer speaks out against aspartame. This article below explains when he was an outspoken critic and what took place.
Also, very importantly notice that ILSI, industry's research front group, is a spin off of the National Soft Drink Assn (now called American Beverage). They provide research funds for those who defend their products. Their consultants you can find on government boards trying to influence them aspartame is a safe product. You can be sure no consultant with ILSI is independent. Their position is to influence.
We thank Lane Shore, Mission Possible Chicago, for his continued research and finding many of the old articles that explain what went on and how aspartame was approved through political chicanery and not science. http://www.soundandfury.tv/pages/rumsfeld.html
Read on for the article below.
Dr. Betty Martini, D.Hum.
Founder, Mission Possible World Health International
9270 River Club Parkway
Duluth, Georgia 30097
Aspartame Toxicity Center: http://www.holisticmed.com/aspartame
October 13, 1987, Tuesday
UPI investigative report: Maverick scientist at center of NutraSweet controversy
BYLINE: By GREGORY GORDON
SECTION: Washington News
LENGTH: 1188 words
Dr. Richard Wurtman was an ardent defender of NutraSweet's safety at public hearings six years ago. Now he is one of the artificial sweetener's harshest critics.
''I think the likelihood is very strong that NutraSweet does produce serious and potentially damaging brain effects in a number of people,'' the nationally known neuroscientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a recent series of interviews.
Wurtman's seemingly enigmatic flip-flop from a position as a G.D. Searle Co. consultant to a role as a foe urging restrictions on marketing of the firm's best-selling product appears to be much at the center of the controversy over NutraSweet's safety.
Wurtman says his views simply changed with the evolution of his scientific studies and his growing skepticism of industry's attitude toward research.
His sometimes-stormy relationships with the company and an industry-funded foundation, the International LifeSciences Institute, provide a glimpse of the maneuvering surrounding research into a major food additive. Wurtman, a brash-talking, hard-driving head of a major research laboratory, said he unilaterally severed his consulting relationship with Searle in 1985 after he grew concerned about NutraSweet's effects and the company's inaction. He said he rejected several approaches by the firm -- called The NutraSweet Co. since its sale that year to the Monsanto Corp. -- to rekindle the arrangement.
Wurtman accuses NutraSweet Co. officials of "misrepresenting" the nature of company-financed studies into links between the sweetener, generically known as aspartame, and epileptic seizures, of sidestepping key safety issues and of threatening to veto his grant application to ILSI's aspartame committee.
A spokesman for the company described Wurtman's public attacks as a ''political issue,'' but declined to elaborate. Wurtman's relationship with Searle, The NutraSweet Co. and many of the companies that sell NutraSweet-flavored products dates to 1978. Beginning that year, according to public records, ILSI provided more than $200,000 to finance his research on caffeine, a common beverage ingredient that was under FDA scrutiny.
Wurtman said he found no ill health effects during his caffeine research, and his relationship was ''excellent'' with ILSI -- a spinoff of the National Soft Drink Association. During the same period in 1978, he said, he rejected a Searle offer of financial support for research on amino acids.
Phenylalanine and aspartic acid, two such amino acids, are the main components of NutraSweet. He said Dr. Sanford Miller, chief of the FDA's bureau of foods, later sought his testimony before a 1980 Public Board of Inquiry because he had openly stated his belief that neither glutamate nor aspartic acid, a similar compound to that in NutraSweet, would not cause brain damage. Wurtman strongly defended aspartame at the hearing. He said he did not focus on phenylalanine until about 1983 when he learned the FDA was considering expanding use of the low-calorie sweetener -- approved two years earlier for dry foods -- to include carbonated soft drinks.
From his caffeine research, Wurtman said, he was aware of the exploding soft drink market and concluded ''that the use of aspartame was going to go up considerably.''
''I was genuinely concerned that there might be an increase in brain phenylalanine levels.'' Wurtman said that, while phenylalanine is vital to the brain, it can serve as a barrier to 20 other amino acids that provide protein.
At a meeting in July, 1983, Wurtman said he told National Soft Drink Association officials that ''if you put large amounts of aspartame in soft drinks and people drink as much as I think they will, there are going to be problems.'' Wurtman said that after the industry accepted his idea for combining NutraSweet with saccharin to cut the danger level, he accepted a Searle offer to serve as a consultant and relations were ''all very friendly and chummy.'' He said he became convinced that ''these people really want to know the extent to which their product may be a real problem.''
Shortly after he took the consulting job, he began getting letters from seizure victims who believed their problems stemmed from NutraSweet.
Wurtman said when he advised Dr. Gerald Gaull, Searle vice president for nutrition and medical affairs, in the spring of 1985 that he thought there was a link, ''there was a very rapid souring of the relationship.''
During a visit to his MIT laboratory, Wurtman said, Gaull asked to review a proposal for a seizure study by him and his collaborator, Harvard University neurologist Donald Schomer. He charged that when he advised Gaull the pair would seek funding from ILSI, Gaull ''got very angry and said, 'We, meaning Searle, are active members of ILSI and we will veto your study.'''
''It was incredulous that he would say it to me, and I was dumbfounded that he would say it in front of witnesses,'' Wurtman said.
Schomer said he did not recall the comment. Gaull said, ''There is no way that I can veto anything at ILSI,'' becauseSearle has only one of 12 votes on the ILSI aspartame committee. He did not deny making the threat.
Wurtman charged that Gaull later advised ILSI that two company-funded seizure studies already were under way, and the foundation declined to approve the grant.
In July of 1985, Wurtman said, he and three other scientists who had expressed concerns about NutraSweet were among a group invited to Gaull's home in Northeast Harbor, Maine, for a two-day conference.
''I left there with the conclusion there was no way these people were going to do an honest job in assessing the possibility that aspartame contributed to seizures,'' Wurtman said.
He said he also was skeptical because, as a company consultant, Searle had asked him to chair its scientific advisory committee -- a role in which the company could use his name to defend the integrity of its own research. But, he said, Searle refused to let him see protocols and data from its studies. ''They wanted the name, but not the reality,'' he said. Frustrated by these developments, Wurtman said he wrote a letter to Robert Shapiro, president of Searle and later of The NutraSweet Co.
''Dear Bob,'' the letter said, ''I know you'll agree that my value to Searle ... derives in part from my telling the company some things that it would rather not hear ... and then from helping the company to deal with those things.
''One such thing is that some consumers may develop significant medical symptoms after consuming very large amounts of aspartame, particularly if they happen concurrently to be on low-calorie, low-protein weight-reducing diets... If Searle-supported studies are going to contribute to our understanding of these people and their symptoms, then the studies have to include them -- and not be restricted to people who have a can or two of soda per day.'' He said Shapiro never answered the letter. Wurtman said he resigned his consulting role a short time later and rejected company efforts in the ensuing months to reinstate the arrangement.