Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

How NOT to support animal experimentation with the ALS ice bucket challenge

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

“Trying to cure human diseases by relying on outdated and ineffective animal experiments isn’t only cruel—it’s a grave disservice to people who desperately need cures.” – Pamela Anderson via Facebook post, 8/20/14

I understand the purpose behind the popular ALS ice bucket challenge, and can see it’s great value towards raising awareness for the cause and in generating donations, but totally agree with Pam on this point, as does the ALS researcher that wrote a piece for HuffPost Science titled, In Defense of Pamela Anderson.

The FDA’s own statistics show that 92 out of 100 drugs that succeed in animal trials fail when used on humans. Apparently that’s particularly true for ALS drugs. In the last several decades, after alllllll their animal testing (they used to use primates but have since stopped and now primarily use rodents, zebrafish and fruit flies), only a handful of drugs even showed promise in clinical trials with humans.In the end, none truly ended up working for people.

The ALS Association has responded to people concerned about animal rights to say that, “The Association is committed to honoring donor intent. If a donor is not comfortable with a specific type of research, he or she can stipulate that their dollars not be invested in that particular area.”

Whether or not you are doing the challenge, if you are donating to the ALS Association please consider specifying that it not be used on animal experimentation. Or, consider giving to an alternative organization such as Compassionate Care for ALS.

Note that I am not being dispassionate or saying not to support ALS awareness or research, just asking people to support ethical research that’s actually *more* effective and directly helps humans. See further info in this blog post by PCRM.

The value judgements of government

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

I listened to a radio program yesterday where callers were discussing their feelings about hate crimes, and whether it makes sense for offenders to get double or triple the punishment when an act is said to be rooted in discrimination against a protected group.

I didn’t agree wholeheartedly with what the callers or the panel was saying. And as the conversation evolved, I realized what was bothering me about the idea – that the legislation allows the government to make a value judgement on our behalf. While typically the justice system punishes actions, with hate crimes they are attempting to determine whether a crime was bias motivated and mete out extra punishment based on that determination. And it’s the government that gets to determine which groups deserve this protection, potentially to the detriment of other groups.

I understand the reasoning for such laws to be that by punishing more severely for bigotry, the government is saying that the action is not OK in our society. There is some perceived greater societal harm that comes from such acts that makes it worth taking extra steps to deter and punish. To be honest, I’m not sure how I feel about that.

A lot of the callers were making the First Amendment/slippery slope argument, saying that if we allow regulation based on thought where does that end? But the path my thoughts took extended to something bigger, to the role that the government plays in our lives and society at large.

In our representative form of government, we basically authorize others to make decisions on our behalf. Letting the government decide what’s important to us gives them a lot of power, and it makes the justice system vulnerable to political influence, with laws alterable by the whims of the current office holders.

Is this the way the system was designed to work? What if we don’t agree with the value judgement they have made? How do we come to a consensus on areas where society does not agree? What do we do as the values of a society change?

As with many other things, I take issue with giving this power to the government. I’d prefer they treat people equally, including criminals, just as I’d prefer they didn’t determine that particular people or relationships have more value than others. That owning a home or having a child is worth incenting. That certain substances are OK to use and some are not. That it’s OK to redistribute income between groups. That some subjects are important for kids to learn and not others. I guess it’s just the libertarian in me questioning (as always) how we got to this point of authorizing that power.

While thinking about this over my lunch break I came across an interesting piece called Social Welfare, State Intervention, and Value Judgments. It argues that the state cannot govern without making arbitrary value judgements, and thus discriminating against some for the benefit of others. It also purports that this becomes more acceptable when the state is attempting to economize on the value judgement. “Any activity, process, or institution will create gainers and losers and ultimately requires extra-economic criteria for its evaluation.”

With that in mind, some governmental decisions make much more sense than if economics were not considered. But is this really how legislators govern? If so, then what of the hate crime legislation? Is there an economic motivation for dis-incentiveizing bigotry?

I also ran across a book called, Government: servant or master? that attempts to answer some of the questions I’ve got swirling around in my head. From the back cover, “The authors do not shrink from debunking the exaggerated prestige of democratic government which instead of being a guarantor of private rights regularly violates them on the debased pleas of “public interest”.”

Too much to deal with in one blog posts, but definitely a topic I intend to explore further.

High fructose corn syrup rebranding as corn sugar

Friday, September 30th, 2011

According to a story by the Associated Press, “The Corn Refiners Association wants to use “corn sugar” as an alternative name for the widely used liquid sweetener currently labeled as high fructose corn syrup” and have petitioned for a name change. In the meantime, the FDA has cautioned them to stop using the term prematurely, as they haven’t yet received approval and are already including it on promotional materials such as their web sites.

This reminds me of Aspartame’s re-brand as AminoSweet that I discussed awhile back. It’s not difficult to see why they’d want to change away from the term high fructose corn syrup (HCFS) as more and more people are turning against their product.

A representative for the group says they don’t believe consumers will be misled by the new terminology though, saying, “We do not believe that anyone could be confused or believe that the statements regarding ‘corn sugar’ on the websites refer to anything other than high fructose corn syrup.”

So what exactly would be the purpose for making the change, if not to lose the negative association? If it’s not to re-brand your product as something more appealing to consumers, then why bother?

According to this New York Times piece, it’s because they believe corn syrup is a confusing term and that corn sugar better communicates about the calories and sweetness of the ingredient. They say consumers wrongly believe it has more sugar than what we’d traditionally consider table sugar (the granular white stuff) and are avoiding it for that reason.

It seems they haven’t quite agreed on consistent messaging internally. Corn sugar is either a term that will be seen as equivalent to HCFS in the minds of consumers (doubtful, IMO) or else a term than more accurately describes a form of liquid sugar that is nutritionally similar to table sugar (presumes consumers care about and are making nutritional decisions based sugar type comparison, also doubtful). If they’re going to choose a new label because it brings clarity to consumers, they’re not going to choose one that is seen as equivalent to their current term.

In my head, it’s nothing more than an attempt to re-brand in attempt to slow or stop the declining use of their product as manufacturers switch to more “natural” forms of sugar in response to consumer demand — as seen with the introduction of products like Pepsi Natural and Mountain Dew Throwback. And consumers are likely demanding this not due to research into the nutritional profiles of varying types of sugar, but because the media and others have painted HCFS as a bad guy, accurate or not. Also, because the pursuit towards more natural products is a popular trend.

In fact, scientists are somewhat split over whether HFCS is any more damaging to consumers than other sugars. According to the Mayo Clinic, research studies have yielded mixed results. HFCS is chemically similar to table sugar, but the thought is that your body may react differently since it’s processed. There’s insufficient evidence at this point to say that this is true, but studies continue to look a the potential effects, including potential links to cancer. Where there is no argument is that we should all be consuming less sweetener, no matter what the source.

So what do you think? Does a switch to the name corn sugar provide any nutritional clarity to you as a consumer? Do you shy away from HFCS in particular or is sugar of any kind treated the same?

Non-violent protest is not terrorism; CMUs are political prisons

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Free speech is proclaimed as a protected right in this country. However, given recent events I’m beginning to think that it’s actually conditional, more of a privilege than anything.

Last week, the Supreme Court protected the ability of the Westboro Baptist Church to protest military funerals. As much as I dislike what the church members have to say, I can understand why the court ruled in their favor. However, I’m disappointed by an action the court took today – refusing to hear the case of SHAC 7, a group of seven people convicted of terrorism for running an animal rights related web site.

The members of the SHAC 7 group took no illegal action themselves, but hosted content on a web site that talked about illegal activities others had taken (like releasing animals from labs). The Third Circuit Court had ruled that while they were not a threat and had not done anything illegal, they could be convicted because they supported illegal actions and by doing so might have incited people to participate. By associating with people who had taken part in illegal activities, the rights of the group were no longer protected.

As Will Potter from Green is the New Red said at the time-

“To put it more plainly: Vocally supporting civil disobedience, explaining what it involves, and encouraging/facilitating people to take part is not protected speech.

This is so important let me say it again, another way: People who write about civil disobedience and encourage people to take part can be found convicted of a crime even if they do not take part in the civil disobedience.

So the fact that the Supreme Court choose to let this ruling stand means that the Third Circuit’s decision is allowed to serve as precedent. Even if you don’t support causes like the ones the SHAC 7 were promoting, consider the danger that this presents to free speech. This has major implications for activists of all stripes.

Some might consider this proof that if your cause is unpopular enough, you will be silenced. And some are silenced in the most absolute sense of the word you can imagine. Domestic terrorists, including those convicted of “eco-terrorism”, are often held in something called Communications Management Units (CMUs), instead of traditional prisons. CMUs radically restrict prisoner access and communication to the outside world. They’re said to “rival, or exceed, the most restrictive facilities in the country, including the “Supermax,” ADX-Florence” where the Unabomber is held.

Prisoners in CMUs are virtually cut off from the outside world, kept in isolation. All prisoner communications and interactions are live-monitored and subject to recording. Letters are photocopied and the delivery is delayed. They’re only allowed two phone calls a week (recently increased from one) scheduled well in advance and up to 15 minutes long. That can be reduced to three minutes at the warden’s discretion. If their family members make the trek to see them in person (there are two CMUs in in the US), they can visit a maximum of two hours (where most inmates are allowed all-day visits), twice a month. They are not allowed physical contact. This is worse than even the most stringent rules for high-risk offenders– something many of these prisoners are not.

Last year the government acknowledged these secret prisons and proposed making them permanent. The Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU both filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the facilities, their policies on prisoner treatment, and violation of due process rights. This is in part based on the practice of transferring a prisoner into a CMU, or from one to the other, without prior notification and without a chance to appeal.

It’s a commonly held belief the reason the CMUs hold these types of prisoners are to shut them up. Removing their access to their family members, the media, and pretty much everyone means that their messages cannot get out. However, the isolation also has the capacity to destroy the prisoners psychologically and serve as a reminder to other activists of what could happen.

The fact that these political prisons even exist should serve as reminder that free speech rights don’t make a difference if you’re not otherwise free.

Security theater

Sunday, January 23rd, 2011

I wrote this piece back in late November and forgot to post it.  I still agree with what I’ve written, so decided there’s no reason not to just publish it now.
______________________________________________________

I learned a new term yesterday- security theater.  A phrase coined by Bruce Schneier, security technologist and author, it’s something that only serves to make people feel more secure without doing anything to actually improve security, much like the TSA security measures for screening of airliner passengers.

While I understand that some form of security is necessary to protect travelers, the methods currently being employed are beyond acceptable in my eyes.  I cannot envision permitting our young son to go through either the full body imaging scanner or the more aggressive pat downs that have recently been put in place.  I’m thankful we’re not set to fly somewhere already, as it would be a hard to face the loss of the money spent on tickets, but I think at this point foregoing the flight is something I’d do.

It’s beyond imaginable to me that people would even begin to think the aggressive behaviour that constitutes the advanced pat down is OK when in any other context it would be a crime. Modesty aside, the safety of the scanners is unproven in my mind, considered by many scientists to be potentially dangerous.  Yet, I hear coworkers defending the practices, and passing it off as no big deal! It can only be fear talking, the traditional technique used to elicit such a response.

When writing this post, I tried to examine many sides of this issue and look at my personal fears on the topic. What I found was that it’s more like indignation than fear in my case.

One one hand, you have the issue of being forced to  submit to the full body scanners, a multifaceted problem. Even if you ignore the part about some stranger viewing pictures of your naked body, there’s still the problem with the radiation from the scanners.  Of course the TSA says they’re safe, but that’s with limited testing and when they’re operating within normal limits.  But what if they’re not operated correctly (as happens even in the medical world where people are very well trained and paid, and that’s not the case with TSA workers) and are giving off more radiation than they should? And what effect does it having on growing kids brains? And since this is in addition to the radiation received in flight, what effect does the cumulative exposure have on health? Does it make one more likely to get cancer? Just so many unknowns!

On the other hand, you have the fear of humiliation, coupled with outrage and indignation about personal bodily integrity.  I firmly believe that the government should not have the right to control what we do with our bodies, that it  should be left up to the individual (and parent).  In the western world, we value our right not to have our bodies touched without our consent.  In this case, there is no other option. Sure, you can choose to go through the scanners, but even after doing that you may be forced to go through the pat down process.  While I may decide that this trade off makes sense for me, I just cannot put my son through that.  Just how does one explain to a child that a random low-level security guard is on the list of people that should be allowed to touch their genitals? You can’t; it’s just not justifiable.

Have you seen the video of the young boy being strip searched? What about the one where the disabled passenger’s urine bag is broken? While it’s good for people to see these things happening, for all to be aware of just what’s going on, it also adds to the growing level of fear of what will happen if we do implement the procedures. And I don’t even want to think about what happens when they encourage the use of this technology for all forms of public transportation!

I think we’d be hearing less public outrage, if we knew the new measures were effective. But that’s the point of security theater– effectiveness is not the goal.

According to Schneier, our current response to terrorism, “relies on the idea that we can somehow make ourselves safer by protecting against what the terrorists happened to do last time.”  And this is so true!  Terrorist will always evolve to incorporate the most recent changes into their plans. If you do look at 9/11, the example brought up by so many in defense of the TSA practices, you’d realize that the same attack would not be allowed to happen today, irregardless of the right of security personnel to touch your “junk”. Cockpit doors have been reinforced and passengers are now willing to fight to make sure planes aren’t being used as weapons.

Scnheier also argues that there’s no need to subject citizens to increasingly invasive search methods when, “the best defenses against terrorism are largely invisible: investigation, intelligence, and emergency response.”  I really agree with Scneier, and also loved his piece in the New York Times debate on the topic of body scanners making us safer. It’s one of the only sensible things I’ve read on the topic over the last few days.

So what’s the cost of all this security theater? Millions of taxpayer dollars, loss of bodily autonomy, increased public fear. People are willingly submitting to be harassed in order to visit their family members or go on vacation.  Some would argue that it’s just the price you have to pay if you want to travel via air. I’ve decided that price is too steep for my family to accept. For the unforeseeable future, we’ll be avoiding flying.

Say cheese!?

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010

I’ve learned this week, due to some great reporting by Michael Moss for the New York Times, there is a marketing group called Dairy Management that’s responsible for promoting dairy to the American public and for overseas export. This organization is a subset of the US Department of Agriculture, an agency also tasked with promoting nutritional responsibility, presenting an obvious conflict of interest between the two groups.  Specifically, Dairy Management promotes cheese consumption and works with major national brands to increase the amount used in their products.

So why the conflicting goals between different branches of the USDA, and how is this allowed? The NY Times piece says, the USDA leaves it up to Dairy Management to decide how to “bolster farmers and rural economies” and isn’t in the business of controlling how this occurs. And according to a story on NPR, the USDA is OK with promoting cheese consumption in particular because Americans need the calcium, especially as they”re drinking less milk.  Still, I’m not sure this fully explains the dichotomy.

Marion Nestle, author of the book Food Politics and this recent blog entry says, “So why is USDA in bed with dairy lobbying groups? That’s its job. From its beginnings in the 1860s, USDA’s role was to promote U.S. agricultural production and sales, with the full support of what was then a largely agricultural Congress. Only in the 1970s, did USDA pick up all those pesky food assistance programs and capture the “lead federal agency” role in providing dietary advice to the public.”

Interestingly, the side of the USDA responsible for nutrition policy is under funded compared to Dairy Management, the side that’s pushing cheese. According to this Boston Globe piece, “While the USDA budgets $6.5 million to promote nutrition policy, Dairy Management had more than $140 million to play with last year, mostly through government fees on the dairy industry, but also with $5.3 million from USDA itself to promote overseas exports.”

Just like many other things the USDA promotes, I take issue with our government endorsing large scale animal agriculture, and thus animal cruelty. However, in this case I find it even more reprehensible that taxpayers are funding even a portion of the budget for a group whose sole job is to promote cheese consumption. It’s true that the majority of the work done by Dairy Management group is paid by the dairy industry itself. However, we’re still on the line for over $5 million dollars, and that’s in addition to the collective millions US dairy farmers receive in government subsidies every year.

While we hear again and again how America is in the throws of an obesity epidemic, here we have a government group whose job is to get even more cheese into our food supply.  Even if you don’t share my ethical concerns about the dairy industry, it’s not hard to see why this might be an issue. This increase in cheese consumption means hundreds and thousands of extra calories for American consumers, as well as an increased intake of sodium and fat. Americans take in an average of 33 pounds of cheese a year now, and Dairy Management hopes this will increase. Thankfully, the Center for Nutritional Policy and Promotion is not singing the same tune.

If there was ever a government program that deserves to be cut, it’s Dairy Management.   There is no legitimate reason to continue funding this group with taxpayer dollars.  I can only hope lawmakers take note.

___

P.S. – When going vegan, cheese was one of the harder things for me to give up. I hear the same thing again and again from other vegetarians; I just can’t give up cheese. Until recently, there weren’t very many good cheese substitutes. Now, thanks to Daiya and other brands, it’s much easier to replace cow milk based cheese with something less cruel that also tastes good.

Soda and food stamps

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

New York Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to get federal permission to block food stamp recipients from using them to buy soda was all over the news today.

Many people have complained that it’s “Big Brother” government telling you what you can can’t eat, and the start of a slippery slope towards them legislating what is and isn’t allowed. However, I don’t find this to be a credible argument.

Mayor Bloomberg is not attempting to block the sales of pop all together, just say that you can’t buy it on the government’s dime.  When you accept the government’s assistance, you do so knowing there are rules attached. After all, the government is the one providing the food stamps and just like with any of their other programs, they determine the guidelines and can administer the program as they see fit.

In fact, the government already limits other items from being purchased with food stamps, such as alcohol, household products, vitamins, cigarettes and other non-food things.  And there’s certainly precedent for limiting specific food choices as well. If you look at state sponsored WIC programs (a program that provides food and supplies for women, infants and children under five), there are stringent regulations surrounding what can be purchased.  Many states only allow recipients to buy certain types of items, insisting on 100% fruit juice instead of “orange drink” for example.

Food stamps are not, as one correspondent on NPR alleged, an income supplement.  It does exactly what it says on the tin!  It’s  officially called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and it’s a program meant to help people buy nutritious food.  No matter what Pepsi or Coke says, soda is not a food, whether nutritious or not (and not surprisingly, the answer is a firm no).

I also don’t think it’s fair to say disallowing soda will be a huge inconvenience and ruin shopping efficiency.  It’s no more inconvenient than disallowing toilet paper, shampoo or any other non-food item you might also buy in a grocery store.  The food stamp program does not provide a high enough amount for it to cover all of a household’s grocery expenses anyway, and it’s not intended to. Splitting the ticket is common. Families will have to use at least some money coming from other sources in order to buy many of their grocery items. Adding soda to that list does not seem to be that much of a stretch. And why can’t stores police soda in the same way they do other disallowed items?

I think it only makes sense to revisit government programs from time to time and see what can be done to make them better.  With a record number of people on food stamps due to the poor economy, pursuing any benefit or efficiency that can be gained seems like a good idea.

This is leadership?

Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

I find myself outraged at something I heard on the radio this morning, yet it’s not entirely surprising. The proposed leader of the military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, Gen. James Mattis, has publicly come out in past bragging about how much he loves killing the enemy, and what a joy it is to shoot and fatally kill another human being.

“Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight,” he said in a 2005 speech in San Diego about killing members of the Taliban. “It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I like brawling.”

Fun?!? It’s fun to shoot people? I find this attitude disgusting. And while I realize that this is part and parcel for the military, I am appalled that it is mentioned so openly and casually.

With all the talk about how he has the qualities of a good leader, all I could think was how is it possible that one of the things we’d celebrate about a person is that he loves to kill? I don’t care if it’s the enemy; in my head this does not set the right tone at all for the conflict, any conflict.

Perhaps I am deluded, but I would say that one of the qualities I would look for would be a person that respects and acknowledges the value of life. If they don’t, I expect they will have no qualms about overstepping their bounds and making decisions that risk lives (innocent, enemy and soldier). A true leader would not view people as expendable, let alone enjoy dispatching of them. What a callous, horrible, outrageous attitude.

Fragrance, chemicals, cancer and the environment

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

For some time now, I have had been having allergic reactions to the fragrance found in products such as perfume, soap, candles, etc. Early morning meetings and trips in the elevator are hard for me to handle, with perfumes and colognes competing to make my nose itch and eyes water. Recently while walking through the mall, I walked by the Bath and Bodyworks store (not even that close to it) and got an instant headache! It seems like it’s gotten worse since I gave birth to our son.

Curious to know how prevalent this reaction is, I looked it up online and found that fragrance sensitivities are common. WebMD offers an excellent article on the topic, that includes fascinating information such as:

  • Some 5,000 different fragrances are used in products today.
  • The fragrance may not be the real problem, as it’s just one part of a mix of chemicals (sometimes as many as 200 or more!) used to create the smell or that act as the masking agent in unscented products.
  • How our bodies respond to a particular fragrance lies in our individual physiologic makeup.
  • Women, particularly during their reproductive years, have the ability to detect odors much more vividly than do men, and they become more sensitive with repeated exposures
  • Doctors don’t agree on what’s behind any fragrance reaction, and whether it’s even a true allergy or simply a response to an irritant.
  • As a health problem, this sensitivity alone affects more than 2 million people, and studies suggest that sensitivity is on the rise.
  • Sensitivity to one fragrance or odor can snowball into a crippling disorder known as multiple chemical sensitivity.
  • There have been several recent legal actions taken on the topic of fragrance, relating exposure to second hand smoke.

So it’s not just me!

In related news this week, a study conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Environmental Working Group found that 17 of most popular fragrances contained 38 secret chemicals, including alarming things like hormone disrupters. I’m wondering if there’s a way I can subtly bring this up to coworkers to get them to tone down the scent use, perhaps post it on the mirror in the bathroom? ;-)

All joking aside, I really believe that consumers have a right to know what’s in the products they buy, whether it be the food they eat or perfume they wear. By taking advantage of the loophole that allows chemicals to be lumped together as fragrance, it makes it hard for consumers to truly assess the product and identify potential allergens. While true that most would not read it anyway if all listed out, there’s something to be said for making the information available for those that do care and/or need the info.

The FDA has the ability to restrict or ban any ingredient they consider unsafe, should they desire to do so.  Perhaps they may reconsider the role of fragrance and other related chemicals in light of the landmark report by the President’s Cancer Panel?

It concluded that the government has failed to prevent unnecessary exposures to carcinogens, potentially causing cancer, and suggests that the challenge for the Obama administration is to intensify research efforts into environmental toxins. “Only a few hundred of the more than 80,000 chemicals in use in the United States have been tested for safety,” the report says. It adds: “Many known or suspected carcinogens are completely unregulated.” Obviously, more studies are needed to determine the effects of pollutants all around us.

It also includes the suggestion that America must rethink the way we confront cancer, including much more rigorous regulation of chemicals. Instead of solely focusing on self screening and preventitive care visits to the doctor, they are finally making other practical recommendations such as to avoid microwaving food in plastic and get your house tested for radon!

Aspartame now known as AminoSweet

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

When I started to see the various stories and alerts roll in saying that Ajinomoto had re-branded aspartame as AminoSweet, my first thought was Ajinomoto- who’s that? The next was concern that consumers might be duped into consuming aspartame again after finally coming to the realization that it is just not good for you.

The PR spin on this one is that, “Ajinomoto believes that the time is right to remind the industry that aspartame tastes just like sugar, and that it’s made from amino acids – the building blocks of protein that are abundant in our diet.”

In other words, they have figured out that consumers are wising up to the fact that their product may be harmful. They’ve decided to switch their name in an attempt to avoid the ill effects of past bad press and other attacks on their reputation (boo hoo!) and convince people anew to buy items containing their chemical concoction.

Ajinomoto doesn’t just say that their product is safe, they actually call it healthy! I don’t know how they dare say it’s beneficial, but they do. Claims on their web site include that it it can help you achieve a healthy diet, that its role in this area is increasingly important, it’s tooth friendly. Apparently it does not bring anything new into your diet because it’s “just like those found in everyday foods such as meat, fish, cheese, eggs and milk” and is digested by the body the same way as other proteins. To that I saw pfffffht.

Aspartame is about as far away as one can get from a healthy ingredient, simple construction or not. The fact that it is “constructed” and not found in nature should be the first red flag. Then consider that aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Combine this with studies showing aspartame as carcinogenic, the possibility it is an immune system disrupter, responsible for seizures, vision loss, etc. and you can easily see why consumers are shying away from their product. There are other reasons that aspartame has been under attack since the 70s too, and the story includes corrupt FDA officials, fabricated lab results, and more.

(Before people bring it up, I do realize that there are studies showing that it is OK  to consume aspartame in moderation. It’s sometimes said that it’s one of the most studied products in history. However, I look at this similar to other things the FDA has approved for use that are also harmful, such as BPA, mercury, fluouride, etc . When you add in the history behind the FDA approval, and look at how many of the positive studies have industry ties,  I am just not comfortable with the product.)

Add to this that I know lots of people that have problems with aspartame, myself included. Years ago before I stopped consuming soda, every time I had a drink containing it I got a headache. Other diet products, or other sodas from the same manufacturer were not a problem for me, just the ones containing aspartame. There are many such stories, and even some books, that lay it all out.  It seems particularly harmful when given to kids (which is probably why it is banned from children’s products in Europe).

And a final minor point, but as far as the actual name goes from a marketing standpoint, I disagree with their contention the name AminoSweet is either appealing or memorable. It’s not like the average person even knows what an amino acid is, let alone considers it a positive thing.  I think they’re overestimating their audience’s ability to make that association. And it might become memorable to those downing their several diet soft drinks a day, but that’s only if their memories aren’t compromised by the affects of the ever-so-healthy protein!

Let’s hope the mainstream media decides to inform consumers of this name change so people can continue to make educated decisions.