What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Some time ago we got excited because we “thought” big business was listening to us. Coke teased us with a pairing of America’s favorite soft drink sweetened with a natural sweetener. And we waited … for nothing. Here’s the story …

What is Stevia?
Stevia Rebaudiana is the name of an herb in the Chrysanthemum family. It grows as a small, wild shrub in parts of Paraguay and Brazil. The glycosides in its leaves account for its sweetness and the crude leaves are reported to be 10 to 15 times sweeter than table sugar. The refined extracts are reputed to be as much as 200 to 300 times sweeter. You can purchase Stevia as a plant from many nurseries these days and grow it in your own backyard. Without additives, it has virtually no calories.

So why don’t they use Stevia as a sweetener?
In September of 1995, the FDA approved Stevia and its extracts to be imported as a “food supplement” but not as a sweetener. It defines Stevia as an unapproved food additive, not affirmed as GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe). Why? In many folks’ opinion, it’s a matter of politics⎯yet again. Because Stevia is a natural substance, it cannot be patented. And that which cannot be patented, cannot profited by exclusively. It’s that simple. And this is where the story gets good … or bad … depending on your take.

The Unholy Marriage of Coke and Stevia (and Their Love Affair With the FDA)
Because the nonpatentable, natural Stevia would have been a major competitor for the multbillion dollar alternative sweetener industry, the powers that be went into the lab and created Truvia™ ⎯also known as Rebiana®, an abbreviation for Rebaudioside A, one of the many sweet-tasting compounds in Stevia. Rebaudioside A has the least bitter after-taste of all compounds in natural Stevia, so the Coca Cola Company, faced with consumer pressure to remove aspartame from their products, poured and tested, created and manufactured, tweaked and retweaked, until they produced, Truvia™. Then they took their new chemical compound to the FDA, and voila! It’s approved ⎯despite that they still will not approve the natural plant from whence it came, citing the absence of “long-term safety research.” Likewise, PepsiCo conducted its own science experiment and created PureVia™⎯also approved. Both reportedly have a number of side-effects.

Now let’s consider this a moment … they’ll approve a substance that was just manipulated into existence two minutes ago (in the grand scheme of things), without the remotest possibility that long-term studies have been done because it’s brand-spanking new, barely slapped on the rear, so to speak. But they won’t approve the plant that has been around for God knows how long?

There is definitely something wrong with that picture.

If you don’t think the FDA would do such a thing, or that it’s actually working to protect you, take a glance at this video by PBS. It’s time the American public held the FDA accountable, because the American government is acting as though it’s on the industry payroll. The only way that will happen is for us get informed and take a stand.

Sources:

PBS

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About Tanya

Tanya is a bestselling novelist and award-winning journalist. She's led the editorial staffs of several parenting publications and Web based editorial, including AOL/ Huffington Post.