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Last August Coca-Cola launched a new ad campaign to defend its use of aspartame in diet sodas. But Europe’s Food Safety Authority just saved Coke a lot of expense and trouble by giving its own OK to this unhealthy additive.
Unhealthy, to put it mildly. University of Sussex Professor Erik Millstone, who helped set up Britain’s Food Standards Agency, says EFSA ignored 20 reliable, independent studies which have identified serious health problems linked to aspartame. Those include brain and nervous system damage, premature births and cancer. Millstone also says members of the EFSA panel that decided the additive was safe all have either direct or indirect conflicts of interest.
Even more disturbing is that Donald Rumsfeld’s conflicts of interest got aspartame on the market in the first place, according to the documentary film Sweet Misery and other sources.
Millstone says EFSA’s decison on aspartame is “biased and deeply flawed,” and a new, unbiased panel should be convened to re-examine this issue.
Tell the EFSA to stop sugar-coating aspartame health risks!
We, the undersigned, say EFSA’s OK of aspartame is irresponsible at best.
It’s to be expected that a company like Coke that makes billions selling diet soda would spend a lot to defend its claim that aspartame is safe. But for an agency that presents itself as a food watchdog to say so is totally unacceptable. Even more unacceptable is the way EFSA’s panel went about making its decision.
Professor Millstone, who helped set up Britain’s Food Standards Agency, expressed his concerns last March when the EFSA first indicated it would endorse aspartame as safe. He told the Daily Mail that that EFSA was “effectively rubbishing more than 20 studies which have identified potential problems with the sweetener, ranging from premature births to cancer.”
Millstone’s indictment of EFSA’s opinion on aspartame exposes serious conflicts of interest among panel members who assessed the evidence. He notes that seven out of the 17 members have “direct commercial conflicts of interest, and another five have institutional conflicts of interest.” Millstone also reports that the panel relied heavily on studies that were funded by industry, but that independently-funded studies that show the most evidence of harm were dismissed by the panel.
Much of the argument defending the use of aspartame says that risk claims are made mostly by conspiracy theorists. But Millstone is no conspiracy theorist. He’s a University of Sussex food safety expert whose concerns should carry a great deal of weight.
We request that EFSA take Millstone’s concerns and suggestions seriously and convene a new panel of experts to do an unbiased assessment of aspartame’s health risks.
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