Also see: "Genetically Modified BACTERIA Used to Make NutraSweet"
Mr. X made the fatal error of walking into Augusta's Nutrasweet plant "without a 'space suit,'" says Betty Martini, an anti-aspartame activist in Atlanta. (Workers at the plant wear protective clothing.) "It almost completely destroyed his lungs, A man who entered the plant with him - also without a suit - dropped dead."
The company attempted to discredit Mr. X by publicly dismissing the death as alcohol-related. Nutrasweet executives offered him a settlement if he agreed to sign the secrecy agreement. He turned them down.
He was shadowed for two years by corporate spies.
He went to a local television station. A pair of reporters taped the interview.
"We're used to stories like this," she says with a shrug. The company often contracts work to local engineers to spare it the public embarrassment of admitting there is a high mortality rate among employees. Trucks idling up with incoming cargo do not dock to unload; an employee drives the trucks in. Visitors to the complex must don protective clothing to avoid contact with lethal waste.
"I was lecturing one afternoon on Nutrasweet," Martini recalls, "and a gentleman in the audience stood up and said he had prepared legal papers for a man who was killed at the plant. 'The papers are sealed,' he told me, 'I can't find anything out and it does no good to ask. 'That product is a poison.' he said."2
The aspartame molecule has three components: aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol – amino acids, petrochemicals. "It is a powerful metabolic poison," Martini says, "a witches brew of breakdown products. The methanol – wood alcohol – converts to formaldehyde and eventually formic acid (ant sting poison). The breakdown product of diketopiperazine, DKP, is a tumor agent."
Monsanto spokesmen swear the sweetener is no more toxic than a glass of orange juice:
On September 13, 1995, a congressional environmental committee reported that of all food additive complaints filed with the FDA,
Besides, how else to account for the Niagara of complaints pouring into the FDA, the blindness, neurological symptoms, the abrupt rise in chronic fatigue, headaches and memory loss - the swollen desk reference of adverse reactions associated with aspartame?
The most extreme case histories are warning flares in the night, sporadically reported by the corporate press. A rare exception was Janet Soto of Brooksville, Florida, who recently appeared on a local television news program to accuse the Nutrasweet Co. of responsibility for her father-in-law's gradual decline and death.
The victim, Santiago "Chago" Echiverria, struggled with diabetes for 15-20 years. Upon his retirement from the railroad, he moved from Ashtabula, Ohio, to Puerto Rico, where Echiverria continued his habitual swigging of diet-cola and copious intake of coffee sweetened with Equal. When Soto received word of Echiverria's death in June of 1994, she and her husband made arrangements to fly to Puerto Rico for the wake.
The funeral director informed them that a surfeit of formaldehyde in the body made it necessary to close the casket.
The putrid chemical was seeping through the cadaver's skin.
A registered nurse in Florida tells her own grim horror story. Formaldehyde poisoning from heavy aspartame use was diagnosed as the cause of death of one of her patients. A physician at the hospital learned that the patient had stored cases of diet drinks in his garage. The deceased was poisoned by the petrochemical byproducts of heated aspartame released in the cola.6
"The formaldehyde stores in fat cells," Martini explains. "Some undertakers tell me that bodies sometimes come to them reeking of formaldehyde."
Aspartame is a drug. It interacts with other drugs, alters dopamine levels and can cause birth defects. It has been known to trigger seizures. Nevertheless, as the tobacco industry soft-peddles the hazards of smoking, so do NutraSweet executives insist that aspartame are safely absorbed by the body. But intake standard comparisons alone write another commentary: The EPA safety standard for methanol intake is 7.8 mg. a day. A liter of diet soft drink contains 550 mg. of aspartame, 55 mg. of methanol.7
The late Dr. Morgan Raiford, a specialist in methanol toxicity, circulated a fact sheet in l987 deploring the sweetener's adverse effects on eyesight and the central nervous system. He found
Laboratory rats turn their noses up to any food with aspartame in it. Yet every single morning, millions wake up to a steaming cup of coffee, RNA derivatives and methanol.
Pass the ant poison. Splash of formic acid?
1) Betty Martini, Mission Possible, private correspondence with author, July 9, 1996.
2) Betty Martini, correspondence with author, July 9, 1996.
3) Company public relations release.
4) Committee for the National Institute for the Environment, "Food Additive Regulations: A Chronology," Congressional Research Service, Updated Version, September 13, 1995.
5) Janet Soto, letter to Martini, April 3, 1995.
7) Dr. H.J. Roberts in a letter to Martini. Also see, H.J. Roberts, Nutrasweet, is it Safe? Charles Press.