How the Game is Played
The grand design of deception.
Or should it be called fraud?
Ajinomoto has built a structure, hired staff to run it, employed universities, medical schools, laboratories, and researchers to turn out research designed to "prove" to the world that MSG is "safe," and set up a propaganda campaign to convince the world that they have "proof" that MSG is "safe." Very often they have used high sounding nonprofit organizations to promote their propaganda.
The activities of the operation are coordinated by Ajinomoto, its International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC), its Glutamate Association, and its International Glutamate Information Service (IGIS). Much of the work is actually done by organizations and persons less obviously employed by the glutamate industry: universities, medical schools, researchers looking for financial support, public relations firms with benign sounding names like the International Food Information Service, media with whom advertising is placed or withheld or to whom harassment is promised, and organizations that have been infiltrated by the "glutes." Their reach is international in scope, gleaning support from such well respected bodies as the World Health Organization and the European Union.
Over the years, those who have evaluated the "safety" of MSG for any organization, government agency, or international organization have been biased individuals with close ties to, or directly supported by, the food industry; and/or they have been persons with limited knowledge of the scientific disciplines involved, or even the issue at hand, who were provided with a preponderance of biased research and were not provided with published data demonstrating the toxicity of MSG or information on such things as case studies of human adverse reactions on file with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For example, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations World Health Organization (FAO/WHO) Expert Committee on Food Additives that reported on MSG "safety" in 1987 did not consider all of the available published data on MSG toxicity and/or adverse reactions; and those data that it did consider had a strong food industry bias.
(Evaluation of certain food additives and contaminants. Thirty-first report of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. World Health Organization Technical Report Series 759 Geneva: World Health Organization, 1987.) (L-glutamic acid and its ammonium, calcium, monosodium and potassium salts. WHO Food Additive Series: 22. Toxicological Evaluation of Certain Food Additives. Prepared by the 31st Meeting of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. International Programme on Chemical Safety. 1987 pp. 97-143)Moreover, never has a qualified neuroscientist sat on an FDA or WHO committee evaluating brain damage caused by the ingestion or administration of MSG.
Glutamate industry involvement is rarely
obvious. That's what makes it so effective. FDA
cooperation/collusion is particularly interesting
The "glutes" exert power everywhere
The "glutes" exert power everywhere through:
Direct and/or indirect contributions of large sums of money to the election campaigns of elected officialsWe are aware of no person, institution, or agency that has claimed that MSG is "safe," that does not have close ties to the glutamate industry, or that has not been at least indirectly remunerated by them.
Generous grants of money to universities and medical schools
Generous funding of individual researchers who carry out studies designed by the International Glutamate Technical Committee to promote the fiction that MSG is "safe"
Invitations to researchers to attend international conferences wherein expenses would be paid for cooperative researchers
Direct and/or indirect purchase of advertising in journals, newspapers, magazines, and on radio and TV
Influence of their public relations firms
Harassment of media sufficient to keep major media from airing any story that might suggest that MSG is even potentially harmful
Contributions to (financial support of) organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association
Jobs outside of government provided for those government employees who, during their public service, have not made it difficult for the glutamate industry to have its way. (When staffers move back and forth between government and the private sector, it's called the "revolving door" policy.)
A "good old boy" network, where rich and powerful members of boards of directors of glutamate industry corporations sit on boards of directors of universities, medical schools, major media, publishing houses, and/or associations like the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association.
Those who do the bidding of the glutamate industry have names and faces
Defenders of the safety of MSG have many faces. Individually, some may appear naive, sloppy in their research, easily influenced by others, or appear to be lacking in their logic. But when combined, as pieces in a picture puzzle might be combine, they paint the picture of a well thought out master plan.
Once the International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) was established, IGTC chairman Andrew Ebert assembled a cadre of scientists who conducted research for the IGTC and/or spoke publicly about the safety of MSG. Their first research stronghold was the University of Iowa, where, in cooperation with W. Ann Reynolds (who was elsewhere) Lloyd Filer, Lewis Stegink, and others poured out badly flawed studies that they alleged demonstrated that MSG and aspartame were "safe." Those who identified their funding sources in their publications or in communications with the FDA are listed with their funding sources in Table 1 of "The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A Study in Suppression of Information."
Steve Taylor, Ph.D., of the University of Nebraska, a prominent representative of the glutamate industry, has done little or no basic research related to monosodium glutamate safety/toxicity, but is respected for his knowledge about food allergy, having served, for example as an officer of the Toxicology and Safety Evaluation Division, a member of the Expert Panel on Food Safety and Nutrition, and president of the Institute of Food Technologists. His name appears prominently on advisory boards such as the Food Allergy Network and editorial boards such as the Encyclopedia of Food Science, Food Technology, and Nutrition. On at least one occasion, he has acknowledged being a paid, glutamate industry spokesman. Yet, when he introduces himself, he typically refers to his University of Nebraska affiliation, but not to the fact that he is an agent of The Glutamate Association, the IGTC, or Ajinomoto.
The focus of researchers who represent the glutamate industry has been to demonstrate that various food additives are "safe." Scrutiny of the literature will demonstrate that for some of these scientists, early research relevant to the safety/toxicity of glutamic acid suggested that glutamic acid might have toxic potential; while subsequent studies and/or public statements made by those same scientists proclaimed that MSG is safe. By and large, those who represent the glutamate industry have produced research relative to the safety/toxicity of MSG only in response to encouragement from the glutamate industry to do so; and the only research that they have published has been research from which they have concluded that MSG is safe. Only two of the glutamate-industry researchers or speakers have been neuroscientists: Richard J. Wurtman, M.D., and Roland Auer, M.D., Ph.D. Wurtman was inventor of Redux, a weight loss drug approved by the FDA, but withdrawn from the market after users were found to be developing heart valve disease.
A special role has been played by Ronald Simon, M.D. and Donald D. Stevenson, M.D. of Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, LaJolla, California. Their exploits as researchers, spokesmen, and expert witness for the IGTC are covered elsewhere in some detail.
Depending on the roles they play, researchers might be considered agents of the glutamate industry. In addition, there are those who promote the products of those they work for, just as public relations firms do, but these organizations highlight the fact that they are nonprofit corporations, while minimizing the fact that they promote the products of those who financially support them. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) and the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) are examples of such glutamate-industry agents.
In 1990, faced with the threat of a "60 Minutes" segment (scheduled to appear on CBS television) that might expose the toxic potential of monosodium glutamate, IFIC became actively involved in representing the interests of the glutamate industry. The IFIC represents itself as an "independent" organization. It sends attractive brochures to dietitians, nutritionists, hospitals, schools, the media, and politicians, proclaiming the safety of monosodium glutamate. In 1990, an anonymous person sent us a copy of a "Communication Plan" dated July-December, 1991, that detailed methods for scuttling the "60 Minutes" segment on MSG, or, failing, that, provided for crisis management. IFIC's paid relationship to the glutamate industry is documented in the 1996 Encyclopedia of Associations. Yet on Internet, we see IFIC listed as "independent." Last time we saw one, IFIC's MSG-packet included names of speakers who would attest to the safety of MSG. Named were Steve Taylor, Ph.D., Darly Altman, M.D., S. Allan Bock, M.D., Susan S. Schiffman, Ph.D., John D. Fernstrom, Ph.D., Jonathan H. Pincus, M.D., L. Jack Filer, M.D., Ph.D., Fergus M. Clydesdale, Ph.D., Richard J. Wurtman, M.D., and Dr. Sanford A. Miller.
The American Academy of Allergy and Immunology has developed materials jointly with IFIC or IFIC's foundation. Their brochure entitled "Understanding Food Allergy" includes such false information as "Whenever MSG is added to food, it is listed on the label as monosodium glutamate." The IFIC brochure, "What You Should Know about Monosodium Glutamate," which has been reviewed favorably by the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, states not only that MSG is safe, but that MSG is safe for children. The FDA has also developed a brochure jointly with IFIC that states, in part, "Whenever MSG is added to food, it is listed on the label as monosodium glutamate."
Support of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), an association sponsored by companies within the food, pharmaceutical, chemical, toxicology, and related industries, has also been observed. The ILSI has provided funding for The Food Allergy Network. The Food Allergy Network is a nonprofit organization that claims as members both the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dean D. Metcalfe, M.D., of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who has spoken out publicly on the safety of MSG, and Sheldon Cohen, M.D., who evaluated possibly MSG-sensitive subjects at NIH with Metcalfe, are, or were, ILSI Allergy and Immunology Institute Scientific Advisors. So were Taylor and Sampson. Sampson was recommended by The Glutamate Association as one who might be interviewed by "60 Minutes" about the safety of MSG. ILSI has also funded the work of Jonathan H. Pincus, M.D., who, at the request of IFIC, reviewed the book Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills by Russell L. Blaylock, M.D. Blaylock had warned that MSG probably contributes to neurodegenerative disease such as ALS, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease. Of the Pincus review, Blaylock wrote, "From your ‘review' I have come to several conclusions. First, you did not read the book carefully, if at all....Your review is full of errors and unfair characterizations..." (At the time, Blaylock was engaged in primary research in the area of excitotoxins and his work was being published in highly respected scientific journals.)
Some individuals and some organizations with alleged interest in food safety have reviewed the safety of MSG favorably. Others have prepared brochures either stating that there is no evidence that ingestion of monosodium glutamate or other MSG-containing food additives should cause consumers concern; or listing food additives that might cause consumers concern while omitting mention of MSG-containing ingredients. The American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation, for example, allowed IFIC to claim "Favorable Review by the American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation" on a 1991 brochure. The American Medical Association refused to implement a Resolution passed by its membership at its 1991 annual meeting calling for the AMA to "...encourage all appropriate regulatory agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, to mandate labeling of all foods containing even small amounts of additive L-glutamic acid so that individuals wanting to avoid this substance may do so".
Whether or not these people and/or organizations are literally agents of the glutamate industry or simply influenced by them is irrelevant. Either way, they publish material that is read by others who respect their opinions; and that material is uncritical of anything said or done by the glutamate industry. Characteristic of those referenced here is their unwillingness to print any addition, correction, or retraction after errors or omissions in published material are pointed out to them.
Influence of the IGTC can be felt at every level. Ebert has served the Grocery Manufacturers of America; the National Food Processors Association; the Institute of Food Technology; the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences Assembly of Life Sciences; the American Medical Association; the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Food Standards Program as an Industry Observer; and the International Food Additives Council as Executive Director. In 1992, FDA appointed both Andrew G. Ebert, Ph.D., IGTC chairman, and Kristin McNutt, Ph.D., paid spokesperson for the IGTC, to the FDA Food Advisory Committee.
As a food-industry pharmacologist and toxicologist, Ebert has provided scientific and technical expertise for programs of many associations managed by The Kellen Company. His nomination to the FDA Food Advisory Committee did not refer to his affiliation with the IGTC, but listed him only as Senior Vice President of The Kellen Company.
Ebert has also been an active member of the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT). Daryl Altman, M.D., a spokesperson for the glutamate industry, worked for former IFT president Al Clausi, Vice Chairman of Allerx, Inc. and its medical affiliate, The Food Allergy Center. Altman has spoken publicly about the safety of monosodium glutamate, often with Taylor. The IFIC promotes them as speakers without mention of the fact that they represent the glutamate industry. L.T. Chiaramonte, M.D., who has co-authored work for the IGTC with Altman, has served on the medical advisory board of The Food Allergy Center.
Ebert continued (or continues) to play a major role for the IGTC. However, following exposure of the fact that research protocols used by IGTC sponsored researchers were flawed to the point of being fraudulent, including, for example, use of MSG and other reactive materials in placebos provided to researchers by the IGTC, Ebert was replaced as IGTC chairman. He continued, however, as an officer of the Robert H. Kellen Company.
Glutamate industry representatives and friends sit on boards of "independent" organizations. Glutamate industry researcher and spokesman Simon has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Monsanto's Robert Shapiro sits on the board of the Tufts University School of Nutrition. Allergy support groups often include industry-friendly allergists on their medical advisory boards. Taylor has served on the Medical Advisory Board of The Food Allergy Network. "Independent organizations" whose medical advisory board members have ties to the glutamate industry have not provided information to their members about MSG-containing ingredients.
Glutamate industry influence is also seen in peer review journals that publish their badly flawed studies. An argument is made in "The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A Study in Suppression of Information" that published glutamate-industry sponsored studies are badly flawed. If that is the case, then their publication in peer review journals is difficult to justify. Consider, however, that if the peers who review the work of glutamate-industry representatives are themselves glutamate-industry representatives, or very close friends, the work of glutamate industry representatives may very well be published. Consider, also, that journals such as the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology take advertising, and journals such as The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition acknowledge the generous support of members of the food and/or drug industries. Both of those journals publish glutamate-industry sponsored studies.
The potential for glutamate industry influence over the media is obvious. Radio, TV, and newspapers all carry food, drug, and cosmetic advertisements; and members of boards of directors may also be directors of food and/or pharmaceutical companies.
Mention of MSG by major media sources has been virtually nonexistent since "60 Minutes" aired a story about the toxic effects of MSG in 1991. Some time after the "60 Minutes" program aired, Nancy Millman, writing for the Chicago Tribune, did an article focusing on the activities of J. Samuels and his fight to have MSG labeled. According to Millman, prior to beginning her work, Millman had cleared the story with her editor; but the article was never published. Similarly, the Baltimore Sun accepted and then refused to print an article on MSG by Linda Bonvie; and an editor at the New York Times told Bonvie that she wouldn't take a story that even mentioned MSG. According to Bonvie, the editor had said she was unwilling to face the pressure that she knew she would face if she did. In 1991, Don Hewett of "60 Minutes" said, on television, that he had never had so much pressure applied to him by industry as he had prior to the airing of the MSG segment. Although rated by TV guide as one of the two most watched segments of the 1991 year, "60 Minutes" won't now touch a story about MSG.
Since 1991, little if any coverage outside of CNN and CBN has said anything other than that MSG-containing food is safe. The only coverage of a law suit filed by consumers against the FDA for failure to require labeling where labeling was needed to protect the public from excitotoxic MSG hidden in food was carried by CNN, CBN, and the St. Louis Post Dispatch when the suit was filed, and by CBN and the Post Dispatch when the court's decision was handed down.
Glutamate-industry involvement is rarely obvious. That's what makes it so effective. An InHealth article ran next to an advertisement from McCormick, a member of The Glutamate Association. Had the McCormick ad not been placed so close to the article, the possibility that McCormick might have commissioned the article might not have been considered. (Magazines often do stories about, or on behalf of, companies that purchase advertising.)
Over the last two decades, the glutamate industry has distributed material designed to convince the public that MSG is safe. Their influence has been so great that as recently as 1989, when consumers raised questions about the safety of free glutamic acid, the FDA commonly referred consumers directly to The Glutamate Association or sent them material prepared by The Glutamate Association. Present FDA practice includes distributing unsolicited copies of an FDA Medical Bulletin that assures physicians that MSG is safe; and distributing similar material to food service people. In the January-February, 2003 FDA Consumer magazine, the FDA's Michelle Meadows, in an article titled: MSG: A Common Flavor Enhancer, spewed out paragraphs that look like they came right off The Glutamate Association or the International Glutamate Information Service Web pages. Trying to convince us that MSG is "safe" while saying nothing.
The active role of the FDA in support of the glutamate industry is discussed in a number of places on this Web site.
The scientific community has been given information by the IGTC and The Glutamate Association, and through intermediaries such as IFIC and ILSI; and members of the scientific community have been encouraged to pass that information on to the public. Allergists, dietitians, and nutritionists appear to have been particularly targeted. Further, the media appear to have been well supplied with glutamate industry materials and to be under tremendous pressure from food and drug advertisers to comment only positively about the value of monosodium glutamate, or not comment at all. IFIC claims that some three out of four journalists surveyed said they use [the IFIC newsletter] Food Insight as background for news stories.
It would appear from records of his correspondence and meetings with the FDA, that IGTC chairman Ebert has been designing, or has been instrumental in designing, glutamate-industry sponsored double-blind studies for years with the blessings of the FDA.
Today, the thrust of the glutamate industry appears to be to ensure the use of their product in fertilizers, plant growth enhancers, pesticides, and fungicides. A product called AuxiGro has been approved for use throughout the United States and elsewhere. Their only setback has been the failure of the State of California to unilaterally approve the product. Yet although their progress in California may be slow, it would appear to be sure. Why sure? Because researchers throughout California's colleges, universities, and medical schools who advise the State on fertilizer and pesticide approvals have benefited from generous research grants given by Ajinomoto over the years. Because major media outlets in California, as elsewhere, are owned and/or operated by those who sit on boards of food and/or drug companies, or are run by those who seem to value advertising dollars over human welfare. Because California legislators, as those elsewhere, consider the wishes of their rich and powerful donors -- sometimes, it would seem, over the welfare of their constituents. Because consumers overcome with MSG-sensitivities don't write, and call, and write, and call their legislators again and again, insisting that processed free glutamic acid (MSG) be identified on product labels.
The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A Study in Suppression of Information is a 52 page article, published in a peer reviewed journal, that demonstrates how the glutamate industry has showered the public with deceptive and misleading information about the purported safety of MSG, and underwritten a many-faceted campaign to con the American public into buying their toxic product. Much of the above was taken from that publication.
If Ajinomoto and others in the glutamate industry had a truly "safe" product, we would guess that the cadre of researchers employed by the glutes to evaluate their product, the peer review journals that (without question) publish their findings, the major media that only report finding MSG "safe," and the public relations firms that broadcast the messages of the glutamate industry in an effort to sell MSG, would be more than sufficient to guarantee outstanding sales of MSG.
But MSG is not "safe," and it would appear that the glutes know it. In the 1980s, in the face of overwhelming evidence that monosodium glutamate kills brain cells in laboratory animals,(103-104) industry researchers changed their original strategy (doing animal studies designed to find that MSG is "safe"). They began to claim that animal studies were not relevant to humans. They initiated a series of double-blind human studies that, they would claim, "proved" that "monosodium glutamate" was safe.
Detailed analysis of those double-blind studies revealed that subjects, materials used, and protocols for administering test and placebo material, minimized the chance that subjects would react to the MSG test material; and that if subjects did react to the MSG test material, they would also react to the placebo.
The primary strategy used in most, if not all, glutamate-industry-sponsored research is to look for evidence of toxicity in subjects least likely to be sensitive to "processed free glutamic acid" (eg. "well subjects" -- people who had never in their lives had any of the adverse reactions attributable to "monosodium glutamate"); to use test materials least likely to produce observable reactions; to use placebos laced with neurotoxic amino acids and/or other substances that will cause identical or similar reactions to those caused by "processed free glutamic acid" test material; to serve "drinks," or a "standard breakfast" laced with neurotoxins with both test material and "placebo" material; to set up protocols that will obscure evidence of toxicity (eg. accepting as adverse reactions only those that occurred within two hours of testing, and those that might be considered mild and transitory, while excluding such reactions as heart irregularities, migraine headache, seizures, nausea and vomiting, and asthma); to allege that finding no evidence of toxicity constitutes proof that their product is "safe;" and to allege that adverse reactions to their reactive "placebos" constituted evidence that reactions to the test material are not reactions to "processed free glutamic acid." To this day, industry researchers routinely:
1. Use variables and methods known to minimize or be irrelevant to identification of the toxic effects of glutamic acid; then conclude that glutamic acid never produces adverse effects. Studies have focused on the relationship between "objective" parameters such as blood pressure and body temperature and ingestion of MSG.Over and above the fact that use of aspartame in placebos is grossly inappropriate, the fact that aspartame-containing products are supposed to carry a warning on their labels did not deter industry from using the substance, or the FDA from allowing its use. Aspartame contains phenylalanine (which adversely affects one in 15,000 Americans); aspartic acid (an excitatory amino acid); and a methyl esther. Aspartic acid and glutamic acid load on the same receptors in the brain, cause the same brain damage and neuroendocrine disorders in experimental animals, and, with the exception of blindness related to aspartame ingestion, cause virtually the same adverse reactions in humans. In addition, aspartic acid and glutamic acid act in an additive fashion. There are over 7,000 unsolicited reports of adverse reactions to aspartame filed with the FDA. It should surprise no one, therefore, that glutamate industry researchers find as many reactions following ingestion of an aspartame-containing placebo as they find following ingestion of monosodium glutamate test material.
Unless MSG sensitive people are studied, one can not legitimately draw conclusions about the relationship of the variables being studied (no matter how objective they are) to people who are sensitive to MSG. Often, these studies are used to allegedly "prove" that people who are not sensitive to MSG are not sensitive to MSG.
2. Limit the recorded adverse effects to a few generally mild and transitory reactions occurring simultaneously, such as those first reported in 1968 by Kwok and dubbed "Chinese- restaurant syndrome" (CRS): "...numbness at the back of the neck, gradually radiating to both arms and the back, general weakness and palpitation." Industry researchers do not consider migraine headache, asthma, seizures, tachycardia, arrhythmia, depression, anxiety attacks or other obviously debilitating and/or life-threatening reactions to "monosodium glutamate" reported since 1968, when they tally up the reactions to MSG.
3. Make no attempt during a study to prevent subjects from ingesting food to which they might be allergic or sensitive.
4. Record reactions as reactions to "monosodium glutamate" or placebo material only if they occur 2 hours or less following ingestion of test or placebo material, even though many symptoms are commonly expressed much later, and reactions may persist for much longer periods.
5. Fail to report all data.
6. Draw conclusions that do not follow from the results of the study. The IGTC researchers have inappropriately concluded, for example, that because approximately one third of their subjects reacted adversely to placebos containing MSG and/or aspartame, they have "proved" that reactions to MSG-containing test material are not reactions to MSG.
7. Use test material that will minimize the effect of any stated amount of glutamic acid test material in producing adverse reactions. One gram monosodium glutamate encased in capsules, and therefore guaranteeing slow release, will cause less effect than 1g monosodium glutamate sprinkled on food; and 1g monosodium glutamate modified with sucrose will cause less effect than otherwise because sucrose is known to slow monosodium glutamate uptake(127)
8. Continue subjects on medications that might block the effects of MSG.
9. Use placebos to which MSG-sensitive people would react (placebos containing MSG, aspartame, carageenan or enzymes, for example), test potential subjects for sensitivity to those placebos, and eliminate any subjects who react to placebos. Researchers can be fairly certain that those who do not react to their reactive placebos will not react to monosodium glutamate test material.
10. Advertise for, and presumably use, "well subjects" - people who had never experienced any of the symptoms with which reactions to MSG are associated. (If 50 per cent of the population were sensitive to MSG, but research design precluded inclusion of that 50 per cent who were sensitive, a study claiming to assess the number of people sensitive to MSG would be invalid.)
11. Refer to studies as "randomized double-blind crossover design studies," which gives the casual reader the impression that subjects were drawn randomly from the general population. In fact, subjects are often carefully selected people who tell researchers that they have never experienced any of the adverse reactions associated with monosodium glutamate, and, under those conditions, are paid to participate in the studies. Other subjects are people, often students, paid for participating in industry-sponsored studies only if they say that they are sensitive to monosodium glutamate. In either case, the only thing in those studies that is "random" is whether subjects get their monosodium glutamate test trial first and their placebo second, or vice versa. Subjects recruited in 1993 for an IGTC-sponsored studies begun in 1992 by Harvard Medical School, Northwestern University Medical School, and UCLA Medical School, were paid hundreds of dollars each--only if the applying subjects (many of them students) claimed that they were sensitive to monosodium glutamate.
12. Use placebos virtually guaranteed to produce as many reactions as might be produced following ingestion of the "monosodium glutamate" test material. Using toxic material in both test material and placebo, researchers argue that the reactions to MSG-containing test material are not reactions to MSG because subjects also react to placebos, which are assumed to be inert. However, the use of toxic material in placebos, particularly when it is identical or similar to the "monosodium glutamate" in the test material, makes it virtually inevitable that there will be approximately as many reactions to placebos as there are reactions to "monosodium glutamate" test material. Sometimes glutamate-industry researchers use "processed free glutamic acid" in placebos, but use sources of "processed free glutamic acid" different than the ingredient called "monosodium glutamate." Gelatin, which always contains "processed free glutamic acid," has been a favorite. Beginning in 1978, even before aspartame was approved by the FDA for use in food, glutamate-industry researchers used aspartame in placebos.(128)
Strong, in a study entitled "Why do some dietary migraine patients claim they get headaches from placebos?" tested the hypothesis that it was the gelatin capsules used to conceal placebo material that caused headaches from placebos, and concluded that capsules may give headaches to dietary migraine patients that are similar to those from foods.(129) This, Strong said, would explain some of the headaches of patients from placebos.
In a previous study, Strong had found that 18 per cent of his subjects reported headaches from placebos which were all concealed in gelatin capsules. Glutamate-industry double-blind studies of the "safety" of "processed free glutamic acid" almost always use gelatin capsules. Of interest is the fact that a gelatin capsule is over 11 per cent "processed free glutamic acid."
It should be noted that placebo reactions have also been noted in industry-sponsored animal studies. It was noted by Nemeroff(107) that Abraham, Doughtery, Goldberg, and Coulston(37) and Abraham, Swart, Goldberg, and Coulston(130) found in both control and glutamic acid treated monkeys a "very small proportion of necrotic or damaged neuronal cells and oligodendrocytes... in the arcuate nuclear region of the hypothalamus." This might happen if the placebo, as well as the test material, contained small amounts of an excitotoxin identical or similar to glutamic acid.
In response to studies that demonstrated that ingestion of "monosodium glutamate" places humans at risk, Ajinomoto, their IGTC, and their agents produced studies alleging the "safety" of "monosodium glutamate." By and large, the human studies were described as double blind placebo controlled studies to evaluate alleged reactions to monosodium glutamate (MSG).
The hallmark of the glutamate industry double blind human studies has been use of a neurotoxic amino acid in their "placebos." Sometime it was aspartic acid (found in aspartame). Sometimes it was "processed free glutamic acid" in some food additive or ingredient other than "monosodium glutamate." Upon being confronted with questions about their placebos, Andrew G. Ebert, Chairman of the IGTC, admitted (in 1991) that since 1978, studies underwritten by the IGTC have used aspartame in "placebos."(131) In response to suggestions from this author that materials used in double-blind tests of the safety of "monosodium glutamate" contained free amino acids, Ebert responded that "the only glutamate or other free amino acids ingested in these controls would have been from natural sources."(132) According to the FDA, both "monosodium glutamate" and aspartame come from "natural sources."
Never were the contents of the glutamate industry's "placebos" disclosed in any publication before Jack Samuels wrote to the FDA in 1993, telling the FDA that the alleged "placebos" contained "processed free glutamic acid" and aspartic acid (in aspartame), and that as such, the IGTC was responsible for scientific fraud.
Typical of the IGTC's human studies is a study done by Tarasoff and Kelly from the Faculty of Business and Technology, University of Western Sydney, Australia, Macarthur Campus, published in Food and Chemical Toxicology in 1993.(133) The first hint that there was something seriously wrong with the study was the fact that 16 out of 38 subjects (42 per cent) reacted to "placebos."
The Tarasoff and Kelly study embodies most of the 12 flaws elaborated earlier in this section. A critique of the Tarasoff and Kelly study was published in January, 1994.(134)
In 1993, Tarasoff and Kelly were still using neurotoxic amino acids in placebos, but the contents of the placebos were elaborated -- as they had not been previously. In June, 1994, Harvard University Medical School, Northwestern University Medical School, and UCLA Medical School were engaged in an IGTC sponsored study designed to convince the public that "monosodium glutamate" was "safe."(135) On June 16,1994, when Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D., wrote to Vice Dean Donald Nutter, M.D., Northwestern University School of Medicine about the impropriety of participating in a study wherein neurotoxic amino acids were being used in placebos, study protocols called for using aspartame in placebos. After Samuels spoke to, and wrote to Dr. Nutter, who told her he would do nothing to interfere with any study that had been reviewed and approved by the appropriate School and University bodies, the protocols were changed to exclude the use of aspartame. Protocols did, however, use a source of "processed free glutamic acid" that would not be recognized as such by most people.
As part of our submission to FASEB during
the study that was published in 1995, we alerted FASEB to the fact that
those human studies that pretended to have demonstrated that "monosodium
glutamate" was "safe," had used neurotoxic amino acids in their placebos.
FASEB did not find that such use of neurotoxic amino acids invalidated
the glutamate sponsored studies. FASEB did, however, suggest that in the
future, neurotoxic amino acids should not be used in placebo materials.
(Samuels, A. Monosodium L-glutamate: a double-blind study and review. Letter to the editor. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 33: 69-78, 1995.)
Misinformation about the "safety" of MSG has been, and continues to be, actively disseminated by the FDA and the glutamate industry. Information/findings related to the toxicity of MSG coming from independent scientists has been, and continues to be, ignored by the FDA, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the media. And there are "dirty tricks."
More about glutamate industry influence will be found in The Toxicity/Safety of Processed Free Glutamic Acid (MSG): A Study in Suppression of Information. Especially relevant are "Structure of their Organization," "Suppression of Information," "Dissemination of Misinformation," "Dirty Tricks," and "Agencies of the United States Government" in the section titled "Defenders of the Safety of MSG."
37. Abraham, R., Doughtery, W., Goldberg, L., and Coulston, F. The response of the hypothalamus to high doses of monosodium glutamate in mice and monkeys: cytochemistry and ultrastructural study of lysosomal changes. Exp Mol Pathol 15: 43-60, 1971.
103. Olney, J.W. and Price, M.T. Neuroendocrine interactions of excitatory and inhibitory amino acids. Brain Research Bulletin 5: Suppl 2, 361-368, 1980.
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IF MSG ISN'T HARMFUL, WHY IS IT HIDDEN?