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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about...artificial sweeteners. Thirty years ago cylclamate was banned, and the safety of other sweeteners is still debated.


CURWOOD: They may not be as sweet as Georgia Brown. Even so, no-cal or low-cal sugar substitutes have become part of our diet-crazed culture. But the reputation of some artificial sweeteners is pretty sour. Thirty years ago, the U.S. government announced its ban on cyclamate after studies suggested the sweetener caused bladder tumors and testicular atrophy in lab animals. While other sweeteners, including aspartame in NutraSweet and saccharine in Sweet'N'Low, are still certified by the FDA, scientists continue to debate their safety. Saccharine is banned in some nations, but in the U.S. saccharine is okay, as long as there is a label warning consumers that it is a suspected carcinogen. Aspartame is also legal in the U.S., although it can be hazardous to people with certain neurological conditions. As for cyclamate, it remains banned in the U.S., and concerns about its safety have spread worldwide. Last year, a magistrate in Malaysia found a company guilty of using the illegal sweetener in its fruit preservatives. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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