- Question from Steve Henwood to Monsanto:
- Dear Jeff,
- You inspired me to write to Monsanto about Nutrasweet,
and I thought you'd be interested in their response. They are claiming
that methanol occurs naturally in many foods and so is, therefore, not
a problem. Can that be true? I was not aware that methanol, which as you
know, is wood alcohol, occurs in food. Are they misinformed? Here is
- (We forwarded the Monsanto Response to Betty Martini
of 'Mission Possible' at www.dorway.com)
- From Betty Martini <Mission-Possible-USA@altavista.net
- Dear Jeff: Thank you for sending me this post from Steve
Henwood and his note from the NutraSweet team regarding the methanol in
aspartame. We are use to Monsanto's misinformation, and I'm delighted
to give you the real facts.
- Nutrasweet's response to Steve Henwood's question:
- In a message dated 11/3/99 9:32:52 AM, email@example.com
- "Aspartame is composed of two amino acids, aspartic
acid and the methyl ester of phenylalanine. It is completely and quickly
metabolized to its two amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine) and
methanol through normal pathways. The body treats aspartame the same way
it handles other foods, such as bananas, milk and hamburgers. The methanol
is identical to that which we consume in much larger concentrations in
fruits, vegetables and their juices, for instance. It is part of the normal
diet. The amount of methanol produced is approximately 10% by weight.
The body then converts methanol to formaldehyde and then to a metabolite
called formate. Formate is then quickly eliminated by the body in the
form of carbon dioxide and water.
- "The amounts produced in metabolism are small, and
are no greater than the methanol produced by the metabolism of many fruits
and vegetables. For comparison's sake the amount of methanol resulting
from drinking a 12 ounce can of soda sweetened with aspartame is less than
obtained from drinking an 8 ounce glass of grape juice.
- Diet Soda 60 mg. methanol/liter Fruit Juice 140 mg.
- "We will also send additional information of which
you can choose the studies listed in the reference section that would be
- (signed) Team NutraSweet (Monsanto)
- Betty Martini's comments:
- Now for the real facts: This is incomplete and inaccurate
information. Real world aspartame containing products contain more than
just methanol, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. These products also contain
breakdown products of aspartame such as beta-aspartame (Lawrence l987,
Stamp l989b) and aspartylphenylalanine diketopiperazine (DKP) (Tsang l985).
- Because the amino acids are not bound in proteins, they
are absorbed quickly and spike the plasma aspartic acid and phenylalanine
to high levels. Even the industry researchers admit that these amino acids
are metabolized differently than those found in foods (Stegink l987a, Stegink
l987b). Methanol is found in *available form" in much greater quantities
in aspartame than in real foods (Monte l984). Methanol taken orally is
extremely toxic to humans. Even though a small amount is found in the
body, as little as a can of diet soda can spike the plasma methanol levels
significantly (Davoli l986).
- Davoli, E., et al.., l986. "Serum Methanol Concentrations
in Rats and in Men After a Single Dose of Aspartame." Food and Chemical
Toxicology, Volume 24, No. 3, page 187-189.
- Lawrence, J. F., J. R. Iyengar, l987. "Liquid Chromatographic
Determination of Beta-Aspartame in Diet Soft Drinks, Beverage Powders and
Pudding Mixes," Journal of Chromatography, Volume 404, page 261-266.
- Monte, Woodrow C. l984. "Aspartame: Methanol and
the Public Health," Journal of Applied Nutrition, Volume 36, NO. 1,
- Stamp, Jeffrey A. Theodore P. Labuza, l989a. "An
Ion-Pair High Performance Liquid Chromatographic Method for the Determination
of Aspartame and its Decomposition Products," Journal of Food Science,
volume 54, NO. 4, pg. 1043-1046.
- Stegink, Lewis D., et al. l987a "Plasma Amino Acid
Concentrations in Normal Adults Administered Aspartame in Capsules or solution:
Lack of Bioequivalence," Metabolism, Volume 36, NO. 5, page 507-512.
- Stegink, Lewis D., et al., l987b. "Plasma Amino
Acid Concentrations in Normal Adults Ingesting Aspartame and Monosodium
L-Glutamate as Part of a Soup/Beverage Meal," Metabolism, Volume 36,
No. 11, page 1073-1079.
- Tsang, Wing-Sum, et al., l985. "Determination of
Aspartame and Its Breakdown Products in Soft Drinks by Reverse-Phase Chromatography
with UV Detection." Journal Agriculture and Food Chemistry, Vol 33,
No. 4, page 734-738
- Because of Steve's interest in the methanol in aspartame,
I would suggest reading Dr. Monte's excellent journal article in full and
you will find this at http://www.dorway.com/nomarkle.html You might want
to append it to this information for posting as we have Dr. Monte's permission.
- Anyone calling the FDA (who parrot's Monsanto misinformation
in the IFIC brochure they send out) or Monsanto continually get this brainwashing
"there is more methanol in fruit juice than in aspartame". As
brought out in Dr. Monte's journal article on methanol on page 1:
- "Ethanol, the classic antidote for methanol toxicity,
is found in natural food sources of methanol at concentrations 5 to 500,000
times that of the toxin. Ethanol inhibits metabolism of methanol and allows
the body time for clearance of the toxin through the lungs and kidneys."
- There is no ethanol in aspartame! To really understand
the seriousness of the methanol in aspartame I will quote from Dr. H. J.
Roberts book ASPARTAME (NUTRASWEET) IS IT SAFE? He says:
- "Methanol is synonymous with wood alcohol, a deadly
poison even when consumed in relatively modest amounts. Even in lesser
quantities, methanol is potentially dangerous because the body is unable
to detoxify it (unlike the ethyl alcohol found in whiskey, beer and wine,
which is readily detoxified and excreted from the body). Methanol can
cause serious tissue damage- especially blindness - and even death. Rarely
found in nature as its "free" form, methyl alcohol is usually
derived or produced from other substances. It made headlines when 25 persons
in Italy died after drinking table wine containing 5.7 per cent methanol.
In one series of patients with methyl alcohol poisoning (Bennett l952)
the lowest fatal dose was three teaspoons of 40% methanol.
- As a known poison, it is logical to consider the possible
role of methyl alcohol in reactions to aspartame containing products.
This applies especially to eye and neuropsychiatric complaints. Taking
aspartame into the body yields approximately ten percent methanol by weight
(Federal Register February 22, l984 pp 6672-6682). The actual methanol
composition of the aspartame molecules is 32/394 or 10.0%. The following
approximations are provided for comparative purposes.
- * 19 gm aspartame, the equivalent of one teaspoon sugar
yields 1.9 gm methanol. * One liter of most aspartame sweetened soft drinks
contain about 55 mg. methanol. * Methanol concentrations in aspartame-sweetened
beverages increase with heating and during prolonged storage. * The amount
of methanol ingested by heavy consumers of aspartame products could readily
exceed 250 mg. daily (Monte l984). This is 32 times the limit of consumption
recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). * Abuse doses
(100 mg. aspartame/kg body weight, or more) results in significant elevations
of blood methanol concentrations in normal subjects (Stegink l984). Moreover,
the level remains detectable for eight or more hours. * Monte (l984) calculated
that one-hundredth the fatal level (a standard criterion for safety used
by the FDA) translates into only two 12 ounce cans.
- Methyl alcohol appears to be the first component of aspartame
released within the upper small intestine. Its absorption is rapid. Man
is highly vulnerable to methanol toxicity because of the absence of two
enzymes required to metabolize it (Roe l982). Its rate of oxidation (or
breakdown) is only one-seventh that of customary ethyl alcohol (ethanol).
- The body attempts to detoxify methanol by oxidizing it
to formaldehyde, then to formate or formic acid, and ultimately to carbon
dioxide which is blown off in the breath. Formate itself may contribute
to toxicity - most notably as metabolic acidosis and eye damage.
- The rate of methanol elimination in humans is five times
slower than for a similar amount of ethyl alcohol (Forney l968). Accordingly,
the daily ingestion of "individually innocuous amounts of methyl alcohol"
could result in eventual poisonous effects."
- Methanol interacts with other drugs. Used together,
the interactions between methanol and chemical compounds related to ethyl
alcohol might have clinical significance (Posner l975). These could include
the oral (sulfonylurea) drugs used in treating diabetic patients, metronidazole
(an anti-bacterial agent) and allopurinol (a standard drug used for managing
out). The consumption of methyl alcohol in the form of aspartame products
theoretically may harm alcoholic patients being maintained on disulfiram.
Antabuse, the trade name drug, is currently being taken by an estimated
400,000 persons in the US while at least as many use less expensive generic
- Methanol and formaldehyde concentrations could rise in
patients receiving maintenance disulfiram who are excessive consumers of
aspartame products due to (1) a further slowing of methyl alcohol degradation,
and (2) inhibition of the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase.
- *Koivusalo (l958) reported that the rate of methanol
elimination in rabbits was considerably delayed by disulfiram. Methanol
was still detectable in the blood 100 hours after the smallest administered
dose. *Way and Hausman (l950) noted more rapid toxicity from oral methanol
in rats and rabbits after prior disulfiram administration.
- The symptoms and signs of methanol toxicity in man are
diverse. Dr. Woodrow Monte (l984), Director of the Food Science and Nutrition
Laboratory at Arizona State University, reviewed the methyl alcohol syndrome.
Its symptoms and sign need not correlate with blood concentration of methanol.
- The disorders caused by methyl alcohol are listed below
because of their possible relevance to complaints encountered among certain
reactors to aspartame products. Of course, the concept of methanol as
a "cumulative poison" have been denied or criticized by representatives
of the manufacturer (Sturtevant l985).
- Eye Damage: Blindness caused by methanol has been attributed
to the toxic, effects of its breakdown products, formaldehyde and/or formic
acid on retinal cells. Methanol produces swelling of the optic disc (Hayreh
1977) and degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (Baumbach l977) in monkeys.
- Brain Involvement:
- CT scans of the brain in patients with methanol poisoning
have revealed areas of presumed local death or infarction (McLean l980).
Swartz l981). Accordingly, a review of some observations concerning brain
swelling (edema), slowing of blood in its vessels (vascular stasis) and
altered cerebral function after experimental methanol exposure is germane.
- * A marked reduction of both cerebral blood flow and
cerebral oxygen consumption has been documented during methanol poisoning.
* Brain swelling occurs in both humans and experimental animals (Menne
1938, Bennett l953, Erlanson l965, Rao l977). * Significant alterations
of brain water, sodium and potassium with concomitant vascular stasis,
are found after methanol administration - both acute and chronic - in male
rabbits and monkeys (Rao l977). Furthermore, the progressive rise of blood
methanol levels after the third week suggests partial inhibition of methanol
degradation. * Survivors of severe methanol intoxication have developed
Parkinsonism, dementia and other neurologic abnormalities ... as well as
blindness. (McLean l980).
- Involvement of the Peripheral Nerves (Neuropathy)
- Neuropathic symptoms from methanol include numbness "pins
and needles" sensations (paresthesias), and shooting pains. They are
particularly evident after chronic exposure to methanol.
- Inflammation of the pancreas (Pancreatitis).
- Pancreatitis has been reported in methanol poisoning
(Bennett l952). Pancreatitis may have produced the severe abdominal pain
in some aspartame reactors in the present series. (patients seen by Dr.
- Inflammation of the Heart Muscle (Cardiomyopathy).
- Cardiac changes have been found in patients with methanol
poisoning. The relatively frequent complaints of palpitations, rapid heart
action and atypical chest pain among aspartame reactors may be pertinent.
- Metabolic Acidosis:
- Methanol characteristically causes metabolic acidosis.
In this severe biochemical state, excessive acids in the body can result
in respiratory failure and death. (diabetic acidosis is another type of
- Clinical acidosis might be induced after large amounts
of aspartame are ingested, especially by children. Dr. Roberts talks about
a London physician who wrote him about his 9 year old daughter who had
been given aspartame containing cola for recurrent abdominal pain.
- "....in all, she probably drank about 1.5 liters
over a 24 hour period together with eating a few slices of toast in the
same 24 hours. The following morning she was found semi-conscious, confused,
and had a metabolic ketoacidosis but a normal blood sugar on admission
to the hospital. Tests for metabolic poisons such as aspirin were negative.
Fortunately, rehydration restored her to normal within 4-5 hours biochemically
together with restoration to normal levels of consciousness. I thought
at the time that (the diet cola) could be responsible but could not find
any evidence to support this ..the (company) in the UK (was) very defensive
about the effects of aspartame and denied any knowledge of adverse effects
- This information has come from Dr. Roberts book that
was written in l990. He has now declared Aspartame Disease a world epidemic
and has completed for publishing a medical text on the world plague which
will soon be available for the consumer public.
- Dr. Roberts does cover in detail this brainwashing about
more methanol in fruit juice. I'll quote a bit more so you will understand
how far they go to indoctrinate the public with misinformation. Searle
originally manufactured aspartame and Monsanto bought them in l985. They
fund trade organizations and write their material and this is a further
way they get their propaganda into the hands of consumers and target physicians
- "The FDA and the council on Scientific Affairs of
the American Medical Association (l985) rationalize the safety of methanol
in aspartame products with statements such as "fruits and vegetables
are also sources of dietary methanol" and "dietary methanol also
arises from fresh fruits and vegetables" (Federal Register Vol. 48,
NO. 132, July 8, l983, p. 31380). The FDA Talk Paper (January 24, l984)
further asserted: "FDA said that no safety issues appeared to be involved,
there being more methanol in many fruit juices than in long-stored aspartame
products, including carbonated beverages." Yet, Monte (l984) estimated
the average daily intake of methyl alcohol from natural sources at less
than 10 mg.
- In giving final approval for the addition of aspartame
to carbonated beverages and carbonated beverage syrup bases (Federal Register
February 22, l984, pp 6672-6682), the FDA stated:
- "The agency does not believe that methanol exposure
equivalent to 10 per cent of the aspartame dose is of sufficient quantity
to be of toxicological concern under acute or chronic use conditions.
FDA remains convinced that the studies submitted by Searle in support of
the dry use and reviewed by the FDA prior to the dry uses approval and
again its evaluation of the carbonated beverage petition adequately support
the agency's conclusion that there was "no cause for concern from
the levels of dietary methanol resulting from the highest projected levels
of aspartame consumption (48FR 31376 at 33181)."
- After many requests, Dr. Roberts has still been unable
to obtain data from the FDA concerning its assays for the free methanol
content of fruits, fruit juices, alcohol beverages and other products derived
by current methods.
- * The reference used by the FDA concerning the presence
of more methanol in the "average fruit juice" (Francot l956)
than aspartame containing orange soda was published three decades earlier.
(written by Roberts in l990)
- * Dr. David G. Hattan (Chief, Regulatory Affairs Staff,
Office of Nutrition and Food Sciences, Center for Food Safety and Applied
Nutrition of the FDA) told Dr. Roberts that he was not aware of any such
recent analyses (personal communication, June 8, l987).
- Three older references on this subject are repeatedly
cited. They were published in French (Le Moan l956), German (Sommer l962),
and Russian (Ivanitsky l973). Dr. Roberts questions their relevance to
aspartame, however, owing to the emphasis on methanol in pectin-containing
fruit and fruit products, some vegetables, wines and their alcoholic beverages.
In fact, Ivanitskly (l973) concluded: "From the standpoint of health,
it is not correct to apply the standards of the methanol content of alcoholic
beverages arbitrarily to fruit juices, as has been done by several authors."
- Dr. Roberts says another issue must be raised in this
context. Any effects of small amounts of methanol possibly present in
fruit juices and wine tend to be offset by their caloric content and the
presence of ethanol (Gilger l959). This contrasts with the absence of
nourishment in the case of "diet drinks".
- Studies by Lund et al (l981) and Nispeeros-Camedo and
Shaw (l989) have clarified the methanol ethanol and acetylaldehyde concentrations
of citrus products. Contemporary gas chromatography methods were used.
These data indicate the following:
- * The concentration of methanol is higher in fresh-squeezed
orange juice compared to the small amounts in pasteurized orange juice
(22 mg/liter), frozen concentrate (3.4 mg/liter), reconstituted juice from
concentrate (trace/one glass) and orange juice in the cans (trace). The
former is undoubtedly due to persistence of pectinmethylesterase enzyme
in the unpasteurized juice which demethylates some pectin and liberates
methanol in the process."
- This is the end of quotes from Dr. Roberts book. Confirming
the seriousness of aspartame disease he writes about is a recent study,
Trocho C, Pardo R, Rafecas I, etc. from Barcelona Spain showing that the
formaldehyde accumulates in the cells and damages DNA. Neurosurgeon Russell
Blaylock, M.D., writes to the Minneapolis Neuropathy Association about
this study and others, and you can read his letter on http://www.dorway.com/nomarkle.html
He also writes about the methanol in aspartame in his book Excitotoxins:
The Taste That Kills.
- The late Dr. Morgan Raiford, ophthalmologist and specialist
in methanol toxicity, diagnosed many of the aspartame victims who went
blind in the 80's. In l986 the Community Nutrition Institute filed a petition
with the FDA to ban aspartame because so many were going blind but the
FDA refused as they are very loyal to Monsanto. We sent thousands of case
histories to Dr. Michael Friedman of the FDA and in June Monsanto hired
- One day the FDA and Monsanto will have to answer for
what they have done. Since aspartame is estimated to be in 9000 products
and climbing and 100 countries of the world, Aspartame Disease may end
up being one of the largest epidemics in world history!
- A few months ago world famous toxicologist, Dr. George
Schwartz, wrote Team NutraSweet and said: "By ignoring the scientific
studies which disagree with your position, you are doing a great disservice
to consumers. Further, you may have created a base for litigation against
your company by denying existing science."
- While Monsanto complains of misinformation on aspartame
on the Internet, it is Monsanto themselves who are putting it out.
- All my best, Betty
- Betty Martini, Founder Mission Possible International
(warning the world off NutraSweet)