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"Depending on the roles they play, researchers might be considered agents of the glutamate industry. In addition, there are people who promote the products of those they work for, just as public relations firms do, but these organizations highlight the fact that they are nonprofit corporations, while minimizing the fact that they promote the products of those who employ them. Some individuals and some organizations with alleged interest in food safety have reviewed the safety of MSG favorably. Others have prepared brochures either stating that there is no evidence that ingestion of monosodium glutamate or other MSG-containing food additives should cause consumers concern; or listing food additives that might cause consumers concern while omitting mention of MSG-containing ingredients.

"The potential for glutamate industry influence over the media, and, therefore, those who write for the media, is obvious. Radio, TV, and newspapers all carry food, drug, and cosmetic advertisements; and members of boards of directors may also be directors of food and/or drug companies.

"Whether or not these people and/or organizations are literally agents of the glutamate industry or simply influenced by them is irrelevant. Either way, they publish material that is read by others who respect their opinions; and that material is uncritical of anything said or done by the glutamate industry. Characteristic of those we have identified is their unwillingness to print any addition, correction, or retraction after errors or omissions in published material are pointed out to them."

 Samuels, A. Accountability in Research (1999) Vol 6, pp. 259-310.


The following letter was submitted to the San Diego Union-Tribune on August 9, 2004.

August 9, 2004

Ed Blonz, Ph.D.
c/o Margaret King
Food Editor
San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego, CA 92112-0191

Your letter to P.P. from Washington, D.C. in the August 4, 2004 San Diego Union-Tribune sounds like something straight from one of the glutamate industry's public relations firms. The debate over the safety of MSG (all processed free glutamic acid) isn't between "people...and scientists...." The debate is between people who have observed that it makes them sick and scientists paid by the glutamate industry to produce badly flawed studies wherein MSG and other similarly toxic substances are used in what the glutamate industry people call placebos.

Focusing on P.P.'s issue,  P.P. claimed to have read that scientists were using MSG to create obese mice and rats and  P.P.'s claim is true.  Since1969, when Dr. John W. Olney demonstrated that MSG injected into neonatal and infant animals caused gross obesity, scientists have used MSG to kill selected brain cells (largely in the area of the hypothalamus) to create obese mice and rats for their experimental studies. To review over one hundred and fifty such studies, one need only go to the Medline index and ask for studies that contain the words, "monosodium glutamate" and "obesity."

Your wording, Mr. Blonz, is wording commonly used by representatives of the glutamate industry.  You said, "...when massive amounts are given...in certain susceptible animal species."  You ignored the feeding studies wherein it has been shown that MSG in a normal diet or given in drinking water to the very young causes brain lesions, behavior and leaning deficits, and subsequent neuroendocrine disorders such as gross obesity.  You also failed to tell the reader that "certain susceptible animal species" include all species ever tested for brain damage caused by MSG.

Is there, as you say,  really "no way [to] translate to a similar effect in humans at any age?"  Evidence presented by scientists outside of the employ of the glutamate industry clearly shows that MSG fed to neonates and infants can cause brain lesions and subsequent neuroendocrine disorders, including gross obesity.  You, however, have chosen to limit your discussion to studies wherein high concentrations of MSG were used.  You, Mr. Blonz,  have chosen to ignore the more telling studies wherein MSG was fed to young animals.  You, Mr. Blonz, have not been honest with your readers.

You spoke of the relatively small amount of MSG typically found in the human food supply.  Although you admitted that there is "a segment of the population that has serious reactions to [MSG]," I don't think that you have any idea how much MSG there is in the human food supply, how much MSG is needed to cause human adverse reactions, or how much MSG is needed to destroy human brain cells.  Nor do I think you have enough information at hand to compare whatever those amounts might be with the amounts fed to animals in feeding studies.  Again, Mr. Blonz, you have not been honest with your readers.

You mentioned that Asian cultures have long used MSG, and you alleged that their lack of a comparable obesity problem provides evidence that there is no relationship between ingestion of MSG and obesity.  You seem not to have considered that the MSG used in Asian cultures, and the way in which MSG is used in Asian cultures, may differ from what we use here and how we use it.  I find it telling that a Chinese physician, Dr. Ho Man Kwok, the first person to report in a medical journal what we now recognize as being a reaction to MSG, noted that he experienced his reaction in a Chinese restaurant in the United States, but had never had such a reaction in either a restaurant in China or in his home.  Until relatively recently, Asians have used relatively  little processed food, and, therefore, relatively little  MSG outside of the ingredient called "monosodium glutamate."

In closing you say, "No doubt there is a segment of the population that has serious reactions to this substance.  But that does not justify a shoot-from-the-hip extension to say it is responsible for all the ills we now face."  That's the way they do it in the glutamate industry: draw the reader's attention away from the issue at hand, draw a conclusion about something different from the issue at hand, and hope the reader will not realize that he has been conned.  P.P. from Washington did not ask about MSG being responsible for "all of the ills we now face."  P.P. only asked about obesity.  The proper answer to P.P. is that there is sound evidence that MSG ingested by the very young can lead to gross obesity later in life. (That evidence comes from study of laboratory animals because in this country we experiment on laboratory animals, not on human infants.)  There is also evidence (from the FDA's own laboratory)  that MSG in the general  human diet can disrupt normal metabolism and affect insulin function. Lynch reported hyperglycemia along with growth suppression. He noted that hyperglycemia did not occur when subjects were given intact protein containing a large amount of glutamic acid. (Lynch, J.F., Jr., Lewis, L.M., and Adkins, J.S. (Division of Nutrition, FDA, Washington, D.C. 20204). Monosodium glutamate-induced hyperglycemia in weanling rats. J S Fed Proc 31: 1477, 1971.)

Those who are interested in the truth about the toxic potential of MSG and where it is hidden in food are invited to visit our Web site: www.truthinlabeling.org


Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D.
Truth in Labeling Campaign
850 DeWitt Place   Suite 20B
Chicago, IL  60611


850 DeWitt Place, Suite 20B, Chicago, IL  60611
adandjack@aol.com 858/481-9333 http://www.truthinlabeling.org

This page was last updated on August 10, 2004.