Friday, January 25, 2008

Musings: Let Them Eat Poison

The rat(s) were on dawn patrol, scampering up the wall and racing around in the roof, causing me to start wondering how many are in there, why they’re still in there, if their frenetic activity was perhaps death throes because they finally ingested the poison…..

To still my mind, and since sleep was no longer possible for either Koko or me, we headed out into that edge time between morning and night, followed by moon shadows, dense clouds overhead.

When we returned an hour later, the rat(s) were still settling in to sleep, which got Koko whining and me questioning why the poison isn’t working; after all, it’s been a week, which is how long the young buck who put out the bait said it might take.

The state Legislature, meanwhile, is addressing poison of another kind in a Senate bill aimed at banning aspartame, one of those yucky artificial sweeteners that people suck up in diet sodas and other such junk. Rep. Mele Carroll introduced a similar bill in the house.

The Senate bill, introduced by Kalani English and Suzanne Chun-Oakland, begins: "The legislature finds it is imperative for the public health, safety and welfare to declare that aspartame and its derivative compounds, in all of their trade names, are poisonous and deleterious food additives due to their neurotoxic and carcinogenic metabolites.

“The legislature finds that federal authorities have not intended to or expressed an intention to occupy and preempt areas of concern regarding the prohibition of toxic, neurotoxic, carcinogenic, poisonous or deleterious food additives, and therefore the legislature may prohibit the sale of products containing aspartame and its derivative compounds in order to protect and ensure the public health, safety and welfare.”

Wow. Just think, they can start with aspartame and move on to the rest of the crap that’s passed off as food. Before long, the grocery store shelves would be bare.

Maybe they’ll even take a giant step like banning genetically engineered food crops from Hawaii and restricting the sale of cloned animal products.

I’m not a fan of government telling people what they can do with their own bodies, and I doubt this bill has a chance. After all, the fake food lobby is huge, and similar attempts to ban aspartame in New Mexico failed. (That issue is addressed in an article distributed by LightLine and written by a woman who has launched an effort to warn the world about NutraSweet/Equal.)

Still, with the nation’s health declining and kids suffering from obesity and rickets, it’s time to get serious about the quality of the food we consume.

But rather than take on aspartame, I’d prefer the Legislature fund some nutrition education, create subsidies for organic farming, enact a strict food labeling law and ensure that food given to those in state institutions is of higher quality.

After all, you are what you eat.

Hmmm, maybe I should put out some diet soda for the rats.....


Anonymous said...

Love your work Joan. You're entertaining, personable & rather (!) informative. All in a nice way. Thank you.

Re your comment today about Hawaii legislation to ban aspartame then "the rest of the crap that’s passed off as food. Before long, the grocery store shelves would be bare."

Here's a quote from and a link to Grist, which believes "that news about green issues and sustainable living doesn't have to be predictable, demoralizing, or dull."

GRIST, January 23: "Big Food -- which has already given a bear hug to another genetically modified sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup -- [has] changed its tune. A Kellogg spokesperson told the NYT that the company "would not have any issues" with GM sugar in the U.S., because "most consumers are not concerned about biotech."

Just the kind of thing I bet you and your readers (including me!) would like to know.

Richard Rodrigues
Hawaii Peoples Fund

Anonymous said...

(Andy Parx)
The question is "is NutraSweet bad for you and after 40 years no one has been able to show it has any detrimental effects even in massive quantities- you'd have to eat pounds a day for a long time to show bad effects- but that's true of any food you'd eat hundreds or thousands of times the normal amount. All real studies- not including anecdotal and fake science screeds- show it to be safe. The one problematic aspect is that it breaks down when it gets old but even then the harmful effects aren't established despite legitimate scientific study after study.

There are so many things out there that are approved- or worse unregulated- that are bad for you that going off half-cocked about aspartame distracts people from the real problems when people take on food and food products- the lack of there being a “there there” taints everyone concerned about food products being safe, giving the perpetrators a straw man to attack them as “nut cases”.

And it allows for the vitamin and supplement industry to rally ignorant new age "alternative medicine" people to "save out vitamins" from the big bad government when the attempt is simply to make sure that all these things are safe and effective.

I want to know that my bottle of 500mg vitamin C has that dose and chemical and isn't rat poison because right now there is no assurance other than "trusting" the company (which is why I buy only big pharma vitamins and supplements because they have something to lose if they are putting something else or a different dosage than what it says on the label).

Oh by the way- if we didn’t have “metabolite benzene” rings in our bodies we’d be dead.... but don’t let biochemistry get in the way....

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Richard, both for your kind words and the very interesting link. I'd heard about those GE sugar beets, and hope the litigation to stop them works.

Andy, i understand the point you're trying to make, and it's valid. However, I do have to object to your reference to "ignorant new age 'alternative medicine' people," since I consider myself the latter, but not the former.

Andy Parx said...

(Andy Parx)
Didn’t mean to offend...

When I said ignorant I was speaking directly to the "don't take away my vitamins" campaign that was (and is again now) funded and directed by the pharma vitamin and supplement industry (there was a well documented money trail exposed in the LA times a few years back).

I'm a nurse with a background in biochemistry and the amount of argument from ignorance out there on medicine is astounding. The reason why treatments are "alternative" and not "complementary" (an extremely important difference) is that they are either unstudied or, as is more usually the case, well-studied and rejected as either harmful or ineffective or both. So I'm talking about specific ignorance of the way the body works and what the chemistry is as the actual way people glom onto these things, like the benzene thing.

I am very angry today because a friend of ours died, possibly unnecessarily, yesterday in Mexico after shunning standard cancer treatments that could have saved her life for some phony baloney “blood heating” cure from a quack. Maybe the former might not have saved her life but her ignorance- based on new age religion "beliefs"- certainly sped her to her reward.

Larry said...

Wait until they find that Hawaii's Li Hing products contain aspertame.

I would rather they ban transfats in restaurants, which might actually be enforceable.

On the matter of ingredients, Twinkie Deconstructed lists the chemicals that are found not only in a Twinkie but in pretty much any manufactured food, it's a good read. Those vitamins may also include stuff made in dubious factories in China, same stuff as is in a Twinkie.

I'm very sympathetic to Andy's arguments. "Alternatives" do not necessarily work and they aren't necessarily better. If one is interested in living, they are no alternatives at all, given a usually deadly situation.

And I've also had the experience of close friends refusing surgery or (as one is now, iodine radiation treatment) and going for the shark cartilege or oxygen therapy, "proven alternative treatments." The first friend died from his cancer, which is normally highly curable. The second person called me last night, she's just not going to do it because she heard that radiation kills and she has "alternatives."

I'm happy to say that traditional modern medicine has saved my life. I also take vitamins...

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Andy.

I have been living with HIV for 21+ years and been medicated (seven different regimens) for the last 11.5 years.

For about the last 16 years, I was getting acupuncture treatments at least once a month, and my acupuncturist also sold me Chinese herbs (most of which were prepared and sold by U.S. concerns) which I take reliably.

I am in very good health, and consider myself a survivor. Though I have a major life condition that has killed more than 25 million people since it was first recognized in 1981, being the beneficiary of great medical care (for the most part), a good diet, frequent exercise, acupuncture & herbs has helped sustain my immune system while also countering the effects of highly toxic HIV-medications on my liver.

And when I don't have someone whom I trust to hear me out, I still make questionable decisions. Balance is key.


P.S. Touched a nerve, have we, Joan?

Andy Parx said...

I don’t know if any of you will see this since it’s already Sat but I wanted to reiterate the difference between alternative and complementary- someone mentioned “proven alternative”- those are called complementary treatments by health care professional. Acupuncture is one – many “alternatives” have, through study, become “complementary” and eventually standard medicine. This is not a “semantic” argument but very precise medical terms used every day in the practice of medicine.

Larry said...

I meant that the person thought that the alternatives were proven. Far from it, of course.

There seems to be something called a "belief system" that we are not allowed to challenge.

Andy Parx said...

Here's the real scoop on the claims

Joan Conrow said...

Belief systems, even if considered "false" or "unproven" by some, play a huge role in the healing process and shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. There's a lot we don't understand about how the healing process works and I'm not about to write off something just because it hasn't won the endorsement of the AMA.

Anonymous said...

Hawaiian Legislative Efforts to Ban Aspartame, Artificial Sweetener
Regarding bills in the Hawaii Legislative session to Ban Artificial sweetener and neurotoxin, Aspartame, House Bill 2680 and Senate Bill 2506

Stephen Fox of Santa Fe, Managing Editor of the Santa Fe Sun News and prime
New Mexico moving force behind the legislative efforts to ban aspartame,
commented on the great consumer progress implicit in these two bills in

This is wonderful news coming from Hawaii; the Legislators and their bill
drafters saw the merit in keeping almost all of the same language from the
2006 and 2007 New Mexico bills, especially regarding the states' rights and
their obligation to protect citizens health, which are not "pre-empted by
massive failures at the FDA.

These New Mexico bills were overwhelmed and eviscerated in New Mexico by some of the most vicious corporate lobbyists I have ever encountered, representing Ajinomoto of Japan, the world's largest manufacturer of both aspartame and MSG, as well as their duped American corporate henchmen/partners-in-poisoning who use massive amounts of Aspartame, like Coca Cola, Pepsi, Altria/Kraft Corporate Services, and others. The same corporations and even more will show up in Honolulu, make no mistake! Probably to include Wrigley's Gum, all of whose products contain aspartame, which is metabolized as methanol and formaldehyde.

These corporations have everything to lose if such bills advance and
ultimately lead to the inevitable product liability and personal injury suits from those damaged by aspartame, which number in the hundreds of millions, despite their corporate serving propaganda and lies.

My profoundest appreciation goes to the numerous fine Hawaii activists who
brought up these imperative issues, and to the Legislators, Senator J. and Rep. Calvin Say (Speaker of the House), at the request of Rep. Mele
Carroll, all 3 Democrats who see the merit and need to protect the health of
all Hawaiians, no matter what duplicity is perpetuated by the top brass and
corporate lackeys at the FDA. The Senate Bill is also cosponsored by Suzanne
Chun-Oakland, Chairperson of the Senate Human Services Committee, and we
sincerely commend these fine legislators for this pre-emptive and protective

Let's hope a few other legislators in other states recognize the importance
of this, and that the FDA Commissioner, Dr. Andrew Von Eschenbach, chooses
not to ignore this urgent initiative, now coming from Hawaii, as he chose to
ignore the same effort in New Mexico as well as the letters signed by 21 New
Mexico Legislators asking him to immediately rescind the approval for this
neurotoxic poison found in 6000 food products.

It is my deepest hope that Hawaii Legislators don't capitulate to corporate-
serving theories advanced by the corporate lobbyists that states do not have
neither the right nor the power nor the obligation to challenge any kind of
Federal authority, like an FDA pronouncement.

When aspartame's history of approval is examined, it will be clear that the
FDA Commissioner at the time in 1981, Arthur Hull Hayes, was under a strong
influence to approve this chemical, no matter who objected from the medical
and scientific community, because the guy from the Reagan "transition team"
who gave him the job, Donald Rumsfeld, had been CEO of the aspartame
manufacturer, G.D. Searle. Rummy made $25 million off this deal alone!

Stephen Fox
Founder, New Millennium Fine Art
Managing Editor, Santa Fe Sun News

505 983-2002
217 W. Water St.
Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501



David Y. Ige Chairman of Senate Health Committee
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25th Representative District
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