While applauding the caution suggested by the Listener article on the dangers of Aspartame, I am disappointed that it did not more fully explain the biochemical processes by which Aspartame causes harm. The dangerous “poison” produced by consumption of this sweetener is wood alcohol (methanol)(1). Methanol is a poison that cannot legally be added to food in any civilized country in the world. All of John’s and Abby Cormak’s symptoms were the classic symptoms of chronic methanol poisoning…all.(12,13)
Unlike the species of lab animals employed in most studies of Aspartame safety, humans lack enzymes which prevent methanol from metabolizing into formaldehyde. Consequently, when consumed by human beings, methanol enters the body’s cells and is converted to formaldehyde (7). This extremely dangerous chemical has been relegated to the highest level of cancer causing agent, Group I, by the IARC the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Lyon. France.(11)
The NZFSA is seriously challenged by the methanol issue. Using the industry’s standard response, they indicate that some methanol is consumed as a part of our normal diets so what harm a little more?(19) They also cite unusually high levels of methanol in black currant and tomato juice to support the premise that methanol is not an uncommon component in our diets (1). However, when asked about the amount of methanol consumed in the typical Kiwi diet, sans Aspartame, they offer no reply. In the absence of unbiased baseline data on consumption, how can the NZFPA reach an informed decision or propose reasoned policy?
The rate of consumption of a poison in a large population cannot be increased without consequence. The toxicological concept of LD01 refers to the amount of a poison that, when fed acutely to a population, will kill on average, one percent of that population. The level that causes symptoms is always much lower than the LD01. Is the NZFPA aware that the LD01 is not known for methanol in humans nor can it be extrapolated from animal testing since there are no animals that are as sensitive to methanol as humans?
Aspartame is not safe enough to mandate its consumption in Schools.
Woodrow C. Monte Ph.D.