It was laughable when Coca-Cola launched a campaign to fight obesity. And even more laughable when the king of soda’s anti-obesity campaign shifted all the blame for those extra pounds to lack of exercise and chairs (yes, chairs).
But now, the company that donated $1.7 million to defeat last year’s GMO labeling initiative in California has gone from laughable to dangerous. In the wake of declining sales of its Diet Coke brand, Coke has rolled out an ad campaign carefully and deceptively crafted to convince consumers that aspartame, the artificial sweetener (whose patent was at one time owned by Monsanto) in Diet Coke, is a ‘healthy alternative’ to sugar.
Aspartame, a synthetic compound (as in, not a food) has a long history of controversy. It’s been linked to a host of health conditions. Some studies have concluded that it actually causes, not prevents, weight gain. The FDA once put its approval on hold. But thanks to Donald Rumsfeld, the artificial sweetener gained approval in 1981. That’s right, the guy who led us into war in Iraq hand-picked the FDA commissioner who rammed through approval of aspartame. Rumsfeld was previously the CEO of G. D Searle, the company that discovered aspartame. He pocketed a nice little $12-million bonus after the FDA approved aspartame and Monsanto bought Searle.