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As this piece is being written, there is a little known petition awaiting action at the Food and Drug Administration. The official title is Flavored Milk; Petition to Amend the Standard of Identity for Milk and 17 Additional Dairy Products. It is in the public comment period until May 21, 2013.
This is a time when the the public has an opportunity to materially affect how they, the consumers, may protect their own health and that of their offspring for generations to come. In that respect the timer is running down and anyone who consumes milk might want to see what the milk producers have planned. The other dairy products on the hit list include acidified milk, cultured milk, sweetened condensed milk, nonfat dry milk, nonfat dry milk fortified with vitamins A and D, evaporated milk, dry cream, heavy cream, light cream, light whipping cream, sour cream, acidified sour cream, yogurt, low-fat yogurt, and non-fat yogurt.
The Federal Register has the petition listed on their website where it can be viewed and comments can be posted:
To summarize the petition, the IDFA and NMPF (International Dairy Foods Association and the National Milk Producers Federation) have petitioned the FDA to seek approval to allow optional characterizing flavoring ingredients used in milk (e.g., chocolate flavoring added to milk) to be sweetened with any safe and suitable sweetener--including non-nutritive sweeteners such as aspartame. The proposed amendments to the milk standard of identity would be to promote more healthy eating practices, reduce childhood obesity as well as to promote honesty and fair dealing in the marketplace, so they say. A more likely scenario is that by using aspartame to flavor the dairy products their costs will be lowered and their profits will increase. Caveat emptor.
Without doubt, the petitioners are using childhood obesity as the talking point to sell the idea of using the cheap but toxic aspartame as the sweetener or flavoring in dairy products. While the idea of more healthy eating habits and a reduction in childhood obesity are obviously good ideas, using additional aspartame in the food chain is counter-productive and dangerous. The diets of Americans and their children in particular are already loaded with the substance.
So why should we be concerned? A study was done by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio that showed adverse health effects to people who consumed aspartame-flavored diet drinks.  The study suggested that instead of fighting obesity and its associated hazards, the use of aspartame might actually contribute to the conditions. Honesty and fair dealing would necessarily preclude adding even more aspartame to our diets. Right off, that alone is reason enough to question their motives; however, there is more.
Professor E. Pretorius, P. Humphries, and H. Naude' reported several disturbing observations concerning aspartame consumption in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.Methanol, which forms 10% of the broken down product, is converted in the body to formate, which can either be excreted or can give rise to formaldehyde, diketopiperazine (a carcinogen) and a number of other highly toxic derivatives. Previously, it has been reported that consumption of aspartame could cause neurological and behavioural disturbances in sensitive individuals. Headaches, insomnia and seizures are also some of the neurological effects that have been encountered, and these may be accredited to changes in regional brain concentrations of catecholamines, which include norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine. The aim of this study was to discuss the direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain, and we propose that excessive aspartame ingestion might be involved in the pathogenesis of certain mental disorders (DSM-IV-TR 2000) and also in compromised learning and emotional functioning. 
Perhaps the longest on-going study on the deleterious effects of aspartame consumption has been that of Woodrow Monte, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Food Science and Nutrition at Arizona State University. His 30-year research has established direct links between aspartame and several diseases, particularly the diseases of civilization such as heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Alzheimer's. Dr. Monte's studies center on the methanol-formaldehyde toxicity paradigm with compelling evidence. In his book, While Science Sleeps, Monte explains how he considers methanol a medical Trojan Horse.Until 200 years ago, methanol was an extremely rare component of the human diet and is still rarely consumed in contemporary hunter and gatherer cultures. With the invention of canning in the 1800s, canned and bottled fruits and vegetables, whose methanol content greatly exceeds that of their fresh counterparts, became far more prevalent. The recent dietary introduction of aspartame, an artificial sweetener 11% methanol by weight, has also greatly increased methanol consumption. Moreover, methanol is a major component of cigarette smoke, known to be a causative agent of many diseases of civilization (DOC). Conversion to formaldehyde in organs other than the liver is the principal means by which methanol may cause disease. The known sites of class I alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH I), the only human enzyme capable of metabolizing methanol to formaldehyde, correspond to the sites of origin for many DOC.
Dr. Monte has also compiled a list of 745 other studies showing that aspartame is indeed a very dangerous substance when consumed by humans. 
Numerous other researchers have consistently found damaging evidence linking aspartame and formaldehyde via the methanol component of aspartame. Rich Murray has compiled a list of respected studies.  One of the studies included in that list by C. Trocho, et al, reports the following:
Formaldehyde derived from dietary aspartame binds to tissue components in vivo. It clearly demonstrates cellular persistence and accumulation, or in layman's terms, that formaldehyde can remain and accumulate in the body. It is absolutely established that formaldehyde converted from the methyl ester in aspartame embalms living tissue and damages DNA. Virtually all non-industry research shows that aspartame should never be consumed by humans. If this amendment is passed the mission of the FDA would be compromised and public health will be endangered.
A small window of opportunity exists for concerned citizens to exercise a degree of self-defense in dietary matters for themselves and for the health of their children; May 21, 2013, is the last day for public comments on the issue of allowing aspartame to be used in a wide range of diary products.
Charles Foerster is a former Naval Aviator and professional pilot. Email: Email address removedNotes:
Originally published at Global Research.