These two items appeared in separate sections of the NY Times yesterday:
- There was an obituary for Elizabeth Whelan, who started the American Council on Science and Health back in 1978. This was an industry-supported initiative claiming to represent “Science, not hype.” Its initial (and continuing) focus was on regulation of foods and chemicals, and it relentlessly attacked what it claimed to be unscientific health fears and regulations on substances ranging from artificial sweeteners to growth hormones for cattle to PCB’s. If you peruse their website you will see consistently scornful and dismissive accounts of scientific studies indicating health risks for products such as saccharin and “scary warning labels” for it.
- There was also an article about a study in today’s issue of Nature, reporting on multiple
lines of evidence that show artificial sweeteners (including saccharin, sucralose and aspartame) to all cause rapid changes in the gut microbiota that lead to glucose intolerance. Saccharine has been around since the 19th Century, and widely used since WW1. But no one even knew to ask these questions in 1978; in fact the term “microbiome” wasn’t even coined until 2001.
Just two unrelated news items.