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For Better or Worse
Jack L. Samuels

From a quarterly commentary on food ingredient issues

September, 2002

Another Concern for the MSG-Sensitive Individual

Effective July 9, 2002, the FDA approved the use of Neotame as a nonnutritive sweetener in food.  Neotame is nothing more than a reformulated aspartame that will require smaller amounts than aspartame to achieve the same sweetness.  Since Neotame will be protected under a new patent, it provides its producer with new patent protection.  (The patent on aspartame has run out.)  Neotame, like aspartame, contains aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and a methyl esther.

Neuroscientists have found, in animal studies, that aspartic acid and glutamic acid load on the same receptors in the brain, cause identical brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, and act in an additive fashion.  People who are sensitive to processed free glutamic acid (MSG) experience similar reactions to aspartame, and people who are sensitive to aspartame experience similar reactions to MSG, providing that they ingest amounts of the substances that exceed their tolerances for MSG/aspartame.

People who currently react to MSG and/or aspartame should expect to react similarly to Neotame.

The FDA reports that the first application for approval of Neotame was filed by Monsanto on February 10, 1998.  Around that time, my wife requested a copy of the application under the Freedom of Information Act.  We were advised that the information could not be sent to us, but that we could review the file if we went to Washington, DC.  We went to Washington, DC, and did review the file on a very hot day, in a small room that had no windows or air conditioning.  FDA staff checked on us every few minutes.

At the time of our review of Monsanto’s application, three human studies on the safety of Neotame were presented.  The studies had few subjects, all of whom were employees of the company.  Some of the subjects reported headaches after ingesting Neotame, but the researcher concluded that the headaches were not related to Neotame ingestion.  Not mentioned in the studies was the fact that migraine headache is, by far, the most commonly reported adverse reaction to aspartame in the files of the FDA.  The FDA has over 7,000 reports of adverse reactions to aspartame.  The reported reactions include death.

In this writer’s opinion, the FDA’s approval of Neotame provides one more example of how the FDA has changed its mission over the years.  The FDA was established to protect consumers, but apparently now sees its mission to be the protection of industry.

When, in the 1970s, application for approval of aspartame was first submitted to the FDA by Searle Laboratories, the application was rejected.  Aspartame was not approved until President Reagan’s appointment as head of the FDA, Dr. Arthur Hull Hayes, unilaterally, and against the previous recommendations of FDA staff, approved aspartame.  Within six months, Hayes left the FDA to join the public relations firm under contract to Searle Laboratories.  At the time, a former employee at the White House, Donald Rumsfeld, was the head of Searle Laboratories, manufacturer of aspartame.

How could the FDA find aspartame to be unsafe prior to Dr. Hayes unilateral approval, and now find a similar product, Neotame, to be safe?

How Blind Can Scientists Be?

As I write this column, Time magazine has had two recent articles on the subject of obesity in children, and it is difficult to read a newspaper or watch television for seven days in a row without reading or hearing something about the growing number of people who are obese.  If one stands on a busy corner of Main Street, USA for a relatively short period of time, they likely will see more than one grotesquely obese young person.  I am speaking of young people who are over 250 or 300 pounds.

As one advancing in years, I can assure you that these grotesquely obese young people were not seen when I was young.  What is causing grotesque obesity?  The experts are trying to tell us that our young people are eating too much fast food and not exercising enough.  Why don’t the experts mention that many peer reviewed studies on laboratory animals have determined that MSG causes brain lesions and neuroendocrine disorders, including grotesque obesity?  Many of the researchers used the same MSG that we give to infants and children in infant formula, vaccines, and table food.

I invite you, legislators, and any scientists interested in the study of obesity in the young to go to www.pubmed.gov and type in “glutamic acid, obesity.”  Request that 100 records be shown, which will take you back beyond 1969, when John W. Olney, M.D., determined that mice being fed MSG had become grotesquely obese due to lesions in the hypothalamus area of the brain.  The records shown on this Web site clearly demonstrates that Dr. Olney’s findings have been replicated many, many times over the years.  Today, some scientists use MSG as an ablative tool to kill brain cells in some of their studies.

Isn’t it time to look at the possibility that the ever increasing use of processed free glutamic acid (MSG) in our society in infant formula, vaccines, and table food is a contributing factor in the occurrence of obesity?  The same government Web site will demonstrate that glutamic acid can pass the placental barrier, and, especially in the young, can pass the blood brain barrier in certain regions and under certain circumstances.

Are scientists afraid of the glutamate industry?  Isn’t it time for governmental health agencies to look at MSG as a possible cause of obesity?

Attention Deficit Disorder

On May 22, 2002, the Cox News Service reported that nearly 7.0 percent of elementary-age children in our country (more than 1.6 million children), have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD).  This number was released in a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study, based on a 1997 and 1998 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau.  The nationwide survey was based on 78,041 households in which parents were asked if any of their children of 6-11 years of age had ever been diagnosed with ADD by a  physician or other health professional or diagnosed with a learning disability by a health care professional or school official.

The study also found that 7.7% (1.8 million children), suffer from learning disabilities.  However, since ADD and learning disabilities overlap in some children, the total number of children affected by one or both of the conditions was found to be 2.6 million.

I submit that scientists and government funded researchers should be looking at processed free glutamic acid (MSG) as a contributing factor to ADD and learning disabilities .  If you believe that this is nonsense, as the glutamate industry would contend, go to wwwpubmed.gov and type in “glutamic acid, learning disabilities.”