From email@example.com Fri Jul 19 17:09:35 1996
Mr. X of Augusta, Georgia is unable to discuss a death he witnessed
inside a local processing plant because he signed a secrecy oath. His
silence has nothing to do with protecting state secrets or the "sources and
firstname.lastname@example.org of the CIA. He was coerced into signing the agreement because the
manufacturer of a common "food additive" does not want the public to know
it is a potent toxin.
Mr. X made the fatal error of walking into Augusta's Nutrasweet
plant "without a 'space suit,'" says Betty Martini, an anhti-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.
"A week later the reporters were fired and Nutrasweet somehow
obtained the tapes." Martini recalls. Mr. X signed the secrecy agreement
"to prevent the persecution of friends at the plant. He has little lung
function left and probably won't live long."1
"We're used to stories like this," she says with a shrug.
The company often contracts work to local engineers to spare
Nutrasweet 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 swimming in 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: "The overwhelming body of scientific evidence
establishes that aspartame is not associated with side effects. Specific
research has been conducted in each of these areas. The results support the
safety of Nutrasweet=AE brand sweetener," the company boasts.3 On September
13, 1995, a congressional environmental committee reported that of all
food additive complaints filed with the FDA, more than 95 percent have
been about two products: the sweetener aspartame and sulfite preservatives.
No firm evidence exists to prove that aspartame actually causes many
NutraDeath for Santiago
So how to account for the Niagara of complaints pouring into the
FDA, the blindness, neurological symptoms, the abrupt rise in chronic
fatigue, the 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.
"His sister, Minerva Ortiz and Nydia Colon, told me that the
funeral director said he had never seen a body deteriorate as quickly, and
was puzzled by the formaldehyde content even before embalming," Soto says.5
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 had
been 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
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 "toxic reactions in
the human visual pathway, and we are beginning to observe tragic damage to
the optic nerve, blindness, partial to total optic nerve atrophy. Once this
destructive process has developed there is no visual restoration." (Mission
Impossible refers patients going blind on aspartame to the National Eye
Research Foundation - 1 800-621-2258 - a diagnostic lab equipped to detect
toxic reactions to methanol.) He described a second side-effect "related to
phenylalanine levels in the central nervous system.... Over the past year
the writer has observed the fact that any portion of the central nervous
system can and is affected." The chemical feast caused "sensations of
dullness of the intellect, visual shadows, evidence of word structure
reversing and some hearing impairment. This can and will in time cause
problems in learning."
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 methane.
Pass the ant poison, please. Splash of formic acid?
- - Notes - -
- 1 Betty Martini, Mission Possible, private correspondence forwarded
- to author, July 9, 1996.
- 2 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.
- 6 Ibid.
- 7 Dr. H.J. Roberts in a letter to Martini. Also see, H.J. Roberts, Aspartame: Nutrasweet, is it Safe? Charles Press.