I’m reading Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, NutraSweet, and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health by Drs. Joseph Mercola and Kendra Degan Pearsall. Anyone who consumes artificial sweeteners, anyone interested in the politics and economics of food, and anyone interested in health at all should read this book. I love that Mercola documents how artificial sweeteners tend to get discovered by accident by scientists in labs developing things like insecticides. Ugh. Feb. 1879, Dr. Ira Remsen (chemist) and research fellow Constantine Fahlberg work in a Johns Hopkins University lab researching toluene derivatives (used to make paint thinners, fingernail polish, rubber — toluene is classified hazardous and toxic) and a spill of chemicals leads to the discovery of saccharin.
1977 and aspartame or NutraSweet is having a hard time getting FDA approval (pesky things like neurotoxicity keep getting in the way) and G. D. Searle hires Donald Rumsfeld as the new CEO. Rumsfeld says his political connections with President Reagan ensure aspartame’s FDA approval within a year.
Not such a sweet story, eh?