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The “good” people are alienated to a large extent from the political process, preferring to dismiss all of it as corrupt and/or impossible; that
perception drives them into a feeling of powerlessness and further alienation, and this  is exactly what the corporations want, so they can continue their control and manipulation through lobbyists’ pressures on particular committees.

This was ghastly last year in terms of the Aspartame bill to ban Aspartame/Methanol/Formaldehyde/Diketopiperazine, sponsored by Senator Ortiz y Pino. The Japanese manufacturer of Aspartame and another neurotoxic food additive, Monosodium Glutamate, Ajinomoto, in fact the largest in the world, hired a lobbying firm, Butch Maki and Associates, for indiscernible amounts of money. They hired  a lobbyist, Richard Minzner, former Majority Leader in the House, to put the screws to the bill in the place it was most vulnerable, its first committee hearing in Senate Public Affairs.

Despite two excellent physicians being there to testify for banning Aspartame, Pediatric Cardiologist, Grant La Farge, and Pediatrician Ken Stoller, and despite massive amounts of articles and letters from Aspartame poisoning victims, the corporations won with a vote of 5-2 to table the bill,  killing it for 2006. Minzner told the Committee it was irresponsible and illegal to even think about challenging an FDA
approved chemical. Antonio Anaya, Vice President of Coca Cola New Mexico told the Committee a monstrous lie, that Coca Cola would lose 600 jobs in New Mexico if aspartame were banned. No one on the committee even challenged the specious illogic of such a perfidious statement. Several members continued to guzzle their Diet Sodas and eat their ham sandwiches while the testimony continued. ( Perhaps it is absurd to even try to entrust decisions about the effects of formaldehyde on New Mexico's children to people who can't even recognize that harm they are doing to themselves ).

Other lobbyists chimed in their predictable objections: the Calorie Control Council, Altria Corporate Services, Pepsi Cola, etc.

No victims were able to change their schedule to be able to sit through many other items in order to speak; no parents concerned about autism or
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder; no one from the New Mexico Department of Health was there to encourage the committee to at least use
the precautionary principle to move the bill forward, to take an obviously harmful chemical off the market. Only the paid lobbyists could
wait to speak, and they were quick to maintain that it has been on the market for 25 years, since its approval was forced through the FDA by Donald Rumsfeld, when he was CEO of G.D. Searle, and is now used in hundreds of nations.

No statisticians nor epidemiologists from the Health Department or Medical School were there to talk about the mountain of evidence that the methanol and formaldehyde as metabolic by-products from aspartame cause serious
neurodegenerative harm, which might have something to do with the spike in statistics for many afflictions in the USA, including Multiple Sclerosis and Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

No one came in 2006 from the Attorney General’s office to say that it was the AG’s opinion that our state could challenge an obviously flawed FDA
approval, and that we didn’t have to continue to slavishly capitulate to multinational corporations having rammed the approval through, nor their subsequent efforts to silence and eviscerate any real efforts to protect the
health of New Mexicans.

No one came from the Governor’s office to note that 22 out of 42 New Mexico State Senators had signed a letter to him asking him to put the bill on the Legislative Call for the short session, the Agenda for which Gov. Richardson
controlled in 2006. This was again the result of intense private lobbying efforts from Maki, Minzner, and Michael Stratton of Colorado, also a
member of the Presidential Nominating Commission, another lobbyist, whose specific job was to remind the Governor that he shouldn’t make such large corporations angry about putting the bill to ban Aspartame on the “call.”

Several hundred members of the Organic Consumers’ Association responded to one of their Action Alerts and sent so many emails to Governor Richardson asking him to support the bill to ban Aspartame by putting it on his "call” over one weekend that the entire email capacity for the Governor’s web page was entirely filled.

We distributed many copies of Cori Brackett's film, Sweet Misery, still the most compelling compilation of evidence damning aspartame, to the
legislators, and it soon became clear that more was so much more at stake internationally, especially in 3rd world and developing nations, which totally rely on the perceived integrity and ostensible high standards of the FDA, and that these excellent videos/DVD's should be in the hands of heads of state, with the real power to reject Aspartame for an entire nation.

So, still, despite a massive unpaid consumer protection effort, the corporate lobbyists won the day by eviscerating the bill, thus giving the corporations carte blanche to continue to poison hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans for
yet another year.

Stephen Fox
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