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With Hawaii's Health at Stake: Last Shot to Ban Aspartame in Hawaii This Legislative Session

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With Hawaii's Health at Stake: Last Shot to Ban Aspartame in Hawaii This Legislative Session

By Stephen Fox , 2/19/2008 10:52:41 AM, Tuesday, February 19

As republished simultaneously from Hawaii Reporter.com, rense.com, and newstarget.com

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Consumer Protection efforts to ban Aspartame/Methanol/Formaldehyde as an artificial sweetener in Hawaii have run into curious tactics by lobbyists compounded by indifference and inertia on the part of the key legislators.

The House Bill was “deferred” on the last day it could be properly heard and voted on by the House Health Committee, at the discretion of the Chairman, Dr. Josh Green, M.D., an emergency room physician who may someday recognize the epidemiological proportions of the vast “emergency” resulting from the neurodegenerative effects from aspartame.

Dr. Green regrettably chose to set an absurdly high hurdle of wanting to hear from 400 physicians and scientists to counter the few letters he got from the Soft Beverage Association of Hawaii and the grocers, plus unwritten comments by a few lobbyists from Coca Cola, Ajinomoto (the Japanese manufacturer), Monsanto’s man in Honolulu, and then, the worst of all opponents, who should have been strongly supportive from the beginning, if she knew as much about aspartame as the average reader of Rense.com.

I refer to Department of Health Director, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, who based her “expert testimony” on an Ajinomoto paid for aspartame toxicology report from Toxicology magazine. The DOH Director missed the boat entirely....

Sen. Kalani English’s bill, Senate Bill 2506, remains Hawaii’s only hope to get rid of this poisonous food additive, whose approval was pushed through the FDA in 1981 by Searle CEO at that time, Donald Rumsfeld, one of the darkest deals in the FDA’s history.

This bill is cosponsored by Suzanne Chun- Oakland, but it will come to naught if the bill hasn't been heard when the deadline comes (Feb. 26) for bills to be reported out of committee. On the surface at the beginning of the session, the prognosis was great for this bill: both co-sponsors are committee chairs, and the bill only has one committee referral, which means usually that it wouldn’t get bogged down by 3 or 4 assignments, which accomplish only one thing: to run out the clock. It still could get a DO-Pass by this Health Committee and then head to the Senate floor for a full Senate vote.

However, the same lobbyists are at work; they get paid to kill bills, something like hired guns in the Wild West got paid to kill people. They don’t want it to be debated on the Senate Floor; that would be disastrous for these malevolent corporations, much as cockroaches don’t like it and scurry away when you turn on the light.

The bill has yet to be scheduled, although the activists in Hawaii and two on the mainland ( me and Dr. Betty Martini, Founder of Mission Possible International) have unleashed a massive effort to get activists, victims, physicians, and others, to write, fax, email, and telephone in to the top Leadership in the Hawaii Senate, to ask them to not let this bill die such an ignominious death by not having been scheduled yet by Majority Floor Leader and Health Committee Chairman, Senator David Ige.

In the foreground of this battle is the obvious ignorance of symptoms caused by aspartame. How many Hawaiians drink a diet coke or chew sugarless gum, get a migraine head ache, and don’t attribute it to the actual cause, the methanol/formaldehyde/diketopiperazine coursing through their veins, arteries, and capillaries? How few of these Hawaiians might actually complain to the Director of the Department of Health? Or in the largest context of testimony, letters, or conversation with their state legislators? Very few.

So I can’t blame the legislators for being under informed about their constituents afflictions caused by aspartame. I do blame them for not watching the magnificent DVD on Aspartame by Cori Brackett, Sweet Misery, which most of them were given very early in the legislative session. I know they are so busy, but if someone gives you a DVD at their own expense, a compelling medical documentary by a former victim of aspartame poisoning, who had been given less than a year to live, due to the huge lesions at the base of her brain and had been diagnosed with advanced Multiple Sclerosis, wouldn’t you take an hour and watch, especially if you knew that you would have to vote on legislation to ban in it your state?

Many legislators in New Mexico, where bills carried by New Mexico State Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino over two years in row were eviscerated by lobbyists: these legislators quickly capitulated to corporate theories advanced by the lobbyists from Coca Cola and Ajinomoto, theories that they had no power, right, obligation, or even any business to so much as question an FDA approved product, the specious theory that all such concerns are completely pre-empted by Federal authority. In other words, Congress created the FDA in 1937 and therefore, all of its pronouncements have the strength of an act of Congress.

This is absurd. Lawyers and states continually challenge and argue over federal preemption questions: there is definitely always a grey area for disagreement. The Hawaii bill, like the New Mexico bill, states “it is the sense of this legislature” that such authority is not entirely pre-empted by the Fed, and that therefore states have the right to exercise their power to protect the health of their citizens. Reasonable conclusion, eh? However, not reasonable at all if you work for Coca Cola, Monsanto, Kraft, Pepsi, Ajinomoto of Japan, etc. Such an idea is tantamount to treason for them; it challenges their right to continue to pile up obscene profits from aspartame, public health or individual health questions be damned!

So their lobbyists lean on a Senator like David Ige, who actually drinks diet sodas himself, I have been told, and it becomes very easy for him to do nothing, to schedule other bills but not this one, and to defer, deflect, and deny its passage, based on the House Health Committee not passing it, thanks to infinite medical wisdom of Dr. Josh Green.

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In 1980, Stephen Fox founded New Millennium Fine Art, a Santa Fe gallery specializing in Native American and Landscape, and is very active in New Mexico Legislative consumer protection politics, trying above to get the FDA to rescind its approval (more...)
 

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Update: Senate Health Hearing Monday on Bill to Ba... by Stephen Fox on Friday, Feb 22, 2008 at 9:53:08 AM