TLB Preface: We are constantly being told that Aspartame is safe for human consumption, but is this the truth? TLB would like to present some facts you may not be aware of that shed serious doubt on this conclusion. Corruption and influence seem to play a very large part in this process to the possible detriment of our long term health. What follows is a letter to the European Food Safety Authority by:
Professor Erik Millstone
SPRU- Science and Technology Policy Research
Freeman Center, Jubilee Building
University of Sussex
Brighton BN1 9SL
22 February 2013
EFSA on Aspartame January 2013
a lost, but not the last, opportunity
The draft report on the safety of aspartame, issued by the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) ANS panel on 8 January 2013, is deeply flawed.
There are at least two main types of flaws: those arising from the criteria by which ‘evidence’ has been selected, and those arising from the criteria by which those studies are interpreted.
The criteria of inclusion have been overly narrow, and have in particular excluded vital documents that bear directly on the scientific competence with which some pivotal studies were conducting and on the accuracy with which they were reported. Such documentary evidence is directly relevant to the reliability of the reported data, and on the truth of the claims based on those studies.
The implicit criteria of interpretation of the studies that have been included are perverse and biased. The panel could only have reached its conclusion that aspartame is safe by implicitly assuming that almost all studies indicating no adverse effects are entirely reliable, even though they have numerous weaknesses and were almost all commercially funded, while all the studies indicating that aspartame may be unsafe are deemed unreliable, even though they sometimes have particular methodological strengths and even though they have all been funded independently of vested commercial interests.
On each of the 80 occasions when the panel discusses a study that indicated no apparent risks from aspartame those studies are taken at face value and typically assumed to be reliable. However, on each of the 27 occasions when the panel discusses studies that indicate that aspartame may pose risks, the panel is unremittingly critical of them, implicitly assuming that they must be misleading, so dismissing them. Often those worrying studies are dismissed not because of evidence but on flimsy grounds, for example by invoking speculative hypotheses without supporting evidence.
The panel reached its conclusion that aspartame is safe not by applying uniformly critical standards to all the evidence from all studies, but by routinely forgiving the shortcomings of favorable studies yet being unremitting critical of all the studies suggesting any possible risks. The panel’s overall conclusions is driven more by the panel’s biased assumptions than by the evidence adduced.
One possible explanation for the asymmetric bias in the interpretation of studies might be found in the pattern of conflicts of interest that characterized the members of the panel. Of the 17 members of the EFSA panel, 7 have direct commercial conflicts of interest, and another 5 have institutional conflicts of interest – for example because their employers have already announced that aspartame is safe.
Only 4 panel members are not characterized by some relevant conflicts of interest. EFSA should therefore discount the draft report, convene a new panel composed only of, and supported only by, experts who are free of any conflicts of interest.
They should be asked to review all the evidence, not just some of it. They should also make explicit their criteria of interpretation, and then show that those criteria have been consistently applied, and they should be applied to prioritizes the protection of consumer and public health over commercial or industrial considerations. The European Commission and the European Parliament should also take responsibility for ensuring that EFSA acts properly to protect consumers rather than assisting the food and chemical industries.
This article only displays the Executive summary, to see the full document (letter) click on this link: http://earthopensource.org/files/pdfs/Erik-Millstone-Letter-to-EFSA-on-Aspartame-1-March-2013.pdf