Bill in New Mexico could ban aspartame from the state

News | January 30, 2007
By M.T. Whitney

(NewsTarget) A new bill proposed by an Albuquerque, N.M. senator -- if passed -- will ban foods with aspartame from being on sale in the state by July. 
Aspartame is a chemically created sweetener that has replaced sugar and corn syrup on a widespread level for many products, including diet soda.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, who told the Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper that "it's going to be an uphill battle."

If the bill is passed, it will ban products containing aspartame from being sold in, manufactured in or delivered to New Mexico until manufacturers can prove it is not a carcinogen. The ban includes sugar substitutes like Equal and NutraSweet.

"New Mexico should be applauded for taking a stand to protect its citizens from a dangerous, neurotoxic food additive that never should have been approved in the first place," said Mike Adams, author of "Grocery Warning.” “Aspartame causes cancer, birth defects, obesity, blindness, seizures, headaches and other dangerous health conditions that could be completely avoided by banning this chemical from foods and beverages."

One concern regarding this proposed legislation is whether the state has the authority to override both the federal Food and Drug Administration, and laws on interstate commerce. Because of this, the bill has been delayed from being put on the table earlier.

The state's Environmental Improvement Board – formed in 1978 to handle both environmental and food issues -- has queried the state attorney general about this issue.

The major proponent of the bill is art gallery owner Stephen Fox, who says that new research identifies aspartame as a toxin, and says the state should put a warning label on products that contain aspartame if they don't approve a total ban. Using a warning label is nothing new for some sweeteners: products with saccharin in them sold in the United States bore a warning label from 1977 to 2000. The sweetener was completely banned in Canada.