in february, the us state of New Mexico rejected two bills demanding a ban on the use of aspartame, an artificial sweetener in food items.
Aspartame, found in products like cough syrups, chewing gum, candy, desserts and soft drinks, is said to increase the risk of cancer, among other things (see 'Sweetener unsafe', Down To Earth, December 31, 2005). A ban would require removing it from around 6,000 such products in the market.
One of the bills was rejected by a state Senate committee on February 11, 2007, by a six to two vote. The following day, a similar bill was rejected by a House of Representatives committee by a four to two vote.
Ajinomoto Corporation, a Japanese company operating in America, and Calorie Control Council, an Atlanta-based organisation promoting the use of artificial sweeteners, were the two leading industry lobbyists who influenced the decision. Dick Minzner of Ajinomoto said the bills would be "an invitation to commercial chaos" because manufacturers would have to change products to meet the new regulation. Calorie Control Council argued the product should not be taken away from those, like diabetics, who needed to limit their consumption of sugar.
Ajinomoto claimed the Senate committee could not decide on this since it lacked the expertise of the Food and Drug Administration, a government regulatory body, which had approved aspartame in 1981.
An impact report of the bill by a committee says the government could face litigation from bill opponents and federal government since aspartame has fda's approval.
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