Last Shot to Ban Aspartame in Hawaii This Legislative Session

With Hawaii's Health at Stake

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

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.

One Hawaii activist wrote these Senators and Representatives and asked them to prepare their own apology to the people of Hawaii for taking little or no action. Meetings will continue; press coverage may dwindle but gradually the word gets out via the Internet and concerned principled Hawaiians with huge emailing lists; a radio show here or there; an article in small papers; word of mouth, etc. So it is not at all hopeless for the 2009 legislative session.

Senator Ige’s staff asked me: “What do you care about what happens in Hawaii?” I answered that I care about what happens to everyone, especially those afflicted with entirely avoidable illnesses resulting from diet sodas, sugarless gum, or dumping Equal into their coffee.” (Heating aspartame to 175 degrees transforms it into diketopiperazine, a proven cause of brain tumors, recognized by toxicologists and oncologists all over the world).

In a larger sense, though, Hawaii is a perfect test situation for such legislation. If the Island’s health authorities cannot control what comes to its shores as imported food products in order to protect its citizens, then the corporations do indeed rule our nation entirely, exercising their control through their FDA apparatchiks.

So would also be Alaska, since such a large percentage of its food products are imported from the Lower 48. But in Alaska, with such a Republican majority, it is difficult and almost impossible to speak of aspartame’s regulatory history, its having been forced through the FDA by Donald Rumsfeld, when he was CEO of G.D.Searle, back in 1981; as part of the Reagan Transition Team, he was able to arrange the appointment of Arthur Hull Hayes as FDA Commissioner, who then immediately overturned 15 years of prior FDA objections, based on obvious neurotoxicity, and issued an order approving aspartame.

Hawaii, with its 80% Democrat legislature, is better ground for such illuminating education; compound that by the major destruction of the sugar cane agriculture and refining on most of the islands by the advent of artificial sweeteners, and you might conclude that such legislation could be passed, even if not one of the legislators is genuinely concerned about Health or about Children, which of course, they all profess to be deeply concerned about. We presented medical testimonial letters from all but one of the top aspartame physicians in the world to the House Health Committee; the effect was minimal. We sent copies to all of the major newspapers and most of the minor one is Hawaii; the effect was minimal.

Unfortunately, the newspapers have been as slow as organic Jamaican molasses to cover these questions. The deputy legislative columnist for the largest, The Honolulu Advertiser, just a few days ago wrote that everything was safe about aspartame because the Department of Agriculture continued to approve it? Department of Agriculture? Please….if the capitol correspondents and the proofreaders at the largest paper in Hawaii missed that error, what hope would there ever be to educate Hawaiians through that newspaper, let alone get a bill passed that would require a serious level of medical and neurotoxicological comprehension.

Fortunately, there is the Hawaii Reporter, an entirely online publication in Honolulu, which carried extensive articles by physicians, victims, and activists. It is published by a really fine editor, Malia Zimmerman, who has had her own share of legislative battles, especially with the former Governor of Hawaii, Ben Cayetano.

The papers on Molokai have carried articles about their particularly active inhabitants; Senator Kalani English and Representative Mele Carroll, the House bill sponsor, represent Molokai in the Legislature, and the Molokai Dispatch has published a long article on the frightening history of aspartame.

A few TV newscasters, like Sabrina Hall and Dick Allgire, have done extensive stories. Allgire’s was a very compelling personal story of ghastly migraines and cluster headaches which stopped when he stopped drinking diet sodas, a story which was posted on, and was then picked up and posted on many mainland medical sites.

The other papers, like the Honolulu Star Bulletin, Honolulu’s second largest, or the other dailies and weeklies on Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island, Hawaii/Hilo, have published nothing about the legislation, as far as we know. The University of Hawaii paper or the Brigham Young paper: not a word. You might think that some aspiring biochemistry student or professor of physiology would write about it? Not a word.

Efforts to contact and obtain the support of medical professors at the University of Hawaii Medical School largely failed, even though the obvious impact on Native Hawaiians with an inclination towards diabetes should have at least piqued their medical curiosity. But not a word, except from one physiology professor who ridiculed all of the medical articles we sent to all of them as flawed, terrible, anecdotal, etc., until he finally admitted that he was hooked on diet sodas himself.


Please put these names and numbers out to the lists as soon as possible: ask everyone, especially victims and physicians, to please make 4 phone calls to the top Senate leaders in Hawaii as soon as possible….this is absolutely our last chance to get this done.

If Health Committee Chairman and Majority Floor Leader David Ige doesn’t schedule the hearing for the bill in the next 48 hours, Senate Bill 2506, it dies, killed by the clock. We can’t let them do this!

Senator Ige is among the top four; the other three are here too:

Senator Colleen Hanabusa, President of Hawaii Senate, phone: 808-586-7793; Fax 808-586-7797, mailto:vog.iiawah.lotipaCnull@asubanahnes

Senator Donna Mercado Kim, Vice President, phone 808-587-7200; fax 808-587-7205 mailto:vog.iiawah.lotipaCnull@miknes

Sen. Gary Hooser, Majority Leader, Hawaii Senate, # if you aren’t from Kauai: Phone 808-586-6030; Fax 808-586-6031, From Kauai, toll free 274-3141 + 66030, mailto:vog.iiawah.lotipaCnull@resoohneS

Senator David Ige Majority Floor Leader phone 808-586-6230; fax 808-586-6231 mailto:vog.iiawah.lotipaCnull@egidnes

Thank you very much. Even if we win or if we fail in Hawaii, please take the time to talk with your own state legislators and ask them to introduce a bill in your state’s legislature, and please talk with your state’s Cabinet Secretary for Health and ask them to support at least creating a repository for victim and physician information, so that there is at least a statistical and factual basis for future legislative consideration.

Please take the time to write to the Presidential candidates and ask them to agree to appoint a vigorous and consumer protection oriented new FDA Commissioner after November, which may be our best chance to get this done, especially if we can get the rampant control of the FDA by corporations into a real debatable campaign issue.

Otherwise, all that will happen is that the body count from aspartame poisoning will continue to increase and small children will be doomed to neurodegenerative illnesses like brain tumors, MS, Lou Gehrig’s, etc., plus childhood diabetes, just because their parents were too stupid to believe anything more complex than the specious nonsense that “the FDA is there to protect us.”

Stephen Fox is the Managing Editor, Santa Fe Sun News and Founder, New Millennium Fine Art. More at Read other articles by Stephen, or visit Stephen's website.

2 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Eric Patton said on February 21st, 2008 at 8:55am #

    > parents were too stupid

    Can’t imagine how you could have trouble organizing with an attitude like that.

  2. D.R. Munro said on February 21st, 2008 at 5:27pm #

    So wait, you’re trying to say that they aren’t stupid for feeding their children poison?