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Xanthier

Stevia

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For those of you unfamiliar with it, it's a south american dried herb that "virtually calorie-free and hundreds of times sweeter than table sugar". But the FDA has not approved it as a sweetener in the US, you can only buy it as a supplement currently.

Why hasn’t the FDA approved stevia? “We don’t have enough data to conclude that the use [in food] would be safe,” the agency stated in 1994.

Yet the chemical aspartame has been on the market for years.

Excerpt from Aspartame ( NutraSweet ) Toxicity Information Center Main Page.

"Of the 90 non-industry-sponsored studies, 83 (92%) identified one or more problems with aspartame. Of the 7 studies which did not find a problems, 6 of those studies were conducted by the FDA. Given that a number of FDA officials went to work for the aspartame industry immediately following approval (including the former FDA Commissioner), many consider these studies to be equivalent to industry-sponsored research."

Still, more testing needs to be done on Stevia before it can be used widely as sugar substitute.

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From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nutrasweet:

Aspartame has been the subject of a vigorous public controversy regarding its safety and the circumstances around its approval. It is well-known that aspartame contains the naturally occurring amino acid phenylalanine, which is a health hazard to the few people born with phenylketonuria, a genetic intolerance of phenylalanine. A few studies have also recommended further investigation into possible connections between aspartame and diseases such as brain tumors, brain lesions, and lymphoma, but no large-scale studies have been conducted. These relatively unexplored possibilities, combined with notable conflicts of interest in the approval process, have engendered vocal activism regarding the legitimate risks of aspartame as well as some less credible conspiracy theories.

I think it comes as common sense that a safe and cheap alternative to an unsafe yet established product is a threat to the companies that manufacture it.

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