Dec 16, 2010  |  Today's News |  Ethanol |  Legislation & Regulation

You probably haven’t heard the news, but the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just reversed one of its decisions made about 25 years ago. In this case, saccharin, the low-calorie sweetener that was demonized for its alleged cancer-causing potential, has been deemed once again safe by the EPA.


Enough already!


Find a good, science-based, non-fear and pop culture motivated way to make these decisions and stick with it! The precedence of making a conclusion on science one day, and then coming to a different conclusion another day is dangerous.


This situation seems eerily similar to what’s going on with atrazine right now. A couple goofball scientists that say atrazine makes frogs turn homosexual have nearly turned the screws tight enough for EPA to ban it, despite the lack of evidence. Saccharin anyone?


In their announcement earlier this week, made with absolutely no fanfare, EPA said:


“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed saccharin, a common artificial sweetener, and its salts from the agency’s list of hazardous substances. Saccharin is no longer considered a potential hazard to human health.

Saccharin is a white crystalline powder that is found in diet soft drinks, chewing gum and juice. Saccharin was labeled a potentially cancer-causing substance in the 1980s. In the late 1990s, the National Toxicology Program and the International Agency for Research on Cancer re-evaluated the available scientific information on saccharin and its salts and concluded that it is not a potential human carcinogen. Because the scientific basis for remaining on EPA’s lists no longer applies, the agency has removed saccharin and its salts from its lists.

EPA proposed the removal of saccharin and its salts from the lists on April 22, 2010, and did not receive any comments opposing the proposal.”

Okay, so wait a minute…back in the 80’s (and I can remember this) there was a huge scare that diet soft drinks and chewing gum were going to cause cancer because they contained saccharin. This stuff was first discovered in 1879, more than 100 years before the big hair and big shoulder-pad era of the 1980’s. So a hundred years later, somebody stirs the cancer scare pot and poof! Saccharin is considered a potential hazard to human health.


And then about 15 years later, a review of the science says it wasn’t a problem and shouldn’t be considered a human carcinogen. But, wait! Nothing happened. It took another 10 years for EPA to get around to reversing their original decision.


How do we keep the “saccharin effect” from hitting agriculture chemicals? Support groups like the Illinois Corn Growers Association where your membership offers you a voice with Congress and regulatory agencies like EPA.  And then, don’t assume that we can do it all and be sure to be active yourself, making comments and calling your Congressman when requested.  If we work together, we might be able to put the thorn of science into the EPA’s side.”