Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of stevia, a calorie-free sweetener derived from herbs. Studies have shown that stevia has no negative health impacts, and is useful for people with Type 2 diabetes because it doesn’t affect blood sugar or blood pressure. The regulatory green light is big news for consumers, who can soon expect to see stevia packets at restaurants next to the Sweet’N Low and Splenda. But as usual, the so-called Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is up in arms over this perfectly natural product.
CSPI top food cop Michael Jacobson recently wrote:
It is far too soon to allow this substance in the diet sodas and juice drinks consumed by millions of people. It looks like this is President Bush’s parting gift to the soda industry … Congress and the Obama Administration should strengthen the law that allows companies to simply declare on their own that new additives are "generally recognized as safe" and just start marketing them, even without notifying the FDA and public. Those decisions are reviewed too casually by the all-too-passive FDA.
If it sounds like a knee-jerk reaction, that’s because it is.
CSPI was also in a tizzy over high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Back then the argument was that “HFCS does not occur in nature and should be considered an artificial ingredient.” So stevia is too natural, and HFCS is not natural enough. Got it?
Of course, this is all just shadowboxing. CSPI’s real problem is that people continue to enjoy sodas and soft drinks despite the food-police group’s best efforts to demonize the beverages as the root cause of obesity. But there is no scientific proof that soft drinks make anyone fatter. And Americans should know to be skeptical of a group that has "Science" in its name but is willing to overlook all the evidence right in its face.