By now, you’ve probably seen the ads for Truvia, the new FDA-approved stevia-based sweetener. That’s right—I used the terms “FDA-approved” and “stevia” in the same sentence. And, on the surface, it seems like a major victory for natural supplements. But there’s much more to the stevia story—and it’s not all as rosy as the media is making it out to be.
It’s true that Truvia is natural. And since it’s natural, it’s far less likely to cause problems than completely unnatural chemical sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose. However, even though it’s natural, Truvia is actually an incomplete version of stevia, using only a fraction of the whole herb.
But what bothers me most about it is the hypocrisy involved in its sudden “approval.”
From book burning to “generally accepted as safe” in a single decade
For years, the FDA has been vehemently opposed to stevia. In fact, in 1998, James R. Lahar, FDA Compliance Officer in the Dallas (Texas) District, sent a letter to Oscar Rodes, President of Stevita, Inc., a supplier of stevia products and books and publications about the herb.
In that letter Mr. Lahar wrote: “….a current inventory must be taken by an investigator of this office, who will also be available to witness destruction of the cookbooks, literature, and other publications for the purpose of verifying compliance.” [emphasis added]
No, I’m not kidding—I have a copy of the letter! In complete violation of the 1st Amendment to the Constitution of these United States, an FDA official was threatening to burn books! The last time that happened was in 1956, when the publications of Dr. Wilhelm Reich were burned, once again in an action instigated by FDA. And of course book burning was common in National Socialist (Nazi) Germany, and throughout Europe during the “Inquisition”—but these United States are (we’re told) a “free country.”
And that letter was written only 10 years ago! So what happened in the last decade to transform stevia from such a dangereous substance that publications concerning it were to be destroyed into a perfectly safe food additive?
Here are a few quotes that may give you a hint:
* “I never have and never will approve a new drug to an individual, but only to a large pharmaceutical firm with unlimited finances.”
—Dr Richard Crout, Director, Bureau of Drugs, FDA (quoted in the Spotlight for January 18, 1982)
* Senator Long: “Did you notice a tendency [by FDA] to spend a great deal of time going after the little manufacturer rather than some of the large ones?”
Witness: “I have definitely noticed that…when a small company is purchased by a large company, the…attacks stop.”
Senator Long: “The merchandise becomes alright, then?”
Witness: “Becomes sacrosanct.”
—1966 U.S. Senate Subcommittee Hearings, as reported in The Dictocrats, by Omar Garrison, ARC Books, New York City, 1970, p. 64
And here are three more clues: Coca Cola, PepsiCo, and Cargill.
For those of you who may not have heard of it before, Cargill is a multi-billion dollar agribusiness similar in size (and power) to the other mega-corporations listed.
On December 17th, 2008 Cargill announced that the FDA notified them that it had “no objection” to Truvia (which is also used by CocaCola). In fact, the agency even granted it the coveted “generally recognized as safe” (or GRAS) status. The FDA also informed PepsiCo that it had “no objection” to its natural (but also incomplete) stevia product, called “PureViaâ„¢”.
So now that the giant corporations have taken an interest in it, stevia fractions are magically OK (although some people are wondering if the “whole” stevia used by smaller companies may still be subject to attack by los Federales).
How you can help change history
This so-called victory—and the long history behind it—is further proof that FDA reform is long overdue. And it’s not just the decades-long history of “cuddling up” to giant corporations, but also FDA’s self-admitted incompetence. Among many other things, the FDA’s own report admitted that the agency “cannot even keep up with the advances in science”! (For further details, refer to the full-text version of the report, titled FDA Science and Mission at Risk).
Don’t let the FDA play games with other natural alternatives the way it has with stevia. Please visit www.reformFDA.org to read much more about the reform effort being led by some of the key organizations in natural health, including the American Association for Health Freedom and the Life Extension Foundation. And please consider signing the petition! Your own health—and the health of all Americans is at stake.
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