In response to growing awareness about the dangers of artificial sweeteners, what does the manufacturer of one of the world’s most notable artificial sweeteners do? Why, rename it and begin marketing it as natural, of course. This is precisely the strategy of Ajinomoto, maker of aspartame, which hopes to pull the wool over the eyes of the public with its rebranded version of aspartame, called “AminoSweet”.

Over 25 years ago, aspartame was first introduced into the European food supply. Today, it is an everyday component of most diet beverages, sugar-free desserts, and chewing gums in countries worldwide. But the tides have been turning as the general public is waking up to the truth about artificial sweeteners like aspartame and the harm they cause to health. The latest aspartame marketing scheme is a desperate effort to indoctrinate the public into accepting the chemical sweetener as natural and safe, despite evidence to the contrary.

Aspartame was an accidental discovery by James Schlatter, a chemist who had been trying to produce an anti-ulcer pharmaceutical drug for G.D. Searle & Company back in 1965. Upon mixing aspartic acid and phenylalanine, two naturally-occurring amino acids, he discovered that the new compound had a sweet taste. The company merely changed its FDA approval application from drug to food additive and, voila, aspartame was born.

G.D. Searle & Company first patented aspartame in 1970. An internal memo released in the same year urged company executives to work on getting the FDA into the “habit of saying yes” and of encouraging a “subconscious spirit of participation” in getting the chemical approved.

G.D. Searle & Company submitted its first petition to the FDA in 1973 and fought for years to gain FDA approval, submitting its own safety studies that many believed were inadequate and deceptive. Despite numerous objections, including one from its own scientists, the company was able to convince the FDA to approve aspartame for commercial use in a few products in 1974, igniting a blaze of controversy.

In 1976, then FDA Commissioner Alexander Schmidt wrote a letter to Sen. Ted Kennedy expressing concern over the “questionable integrity of the basic safety data submitted for aspartame safety”. FDA Chief Counsel Richard Merrill believed that a grand jury should investigate G.D. Searle & Company for lying about the safety of aspartame in its reports and for concealing evidence proving the chemical is unsafe for consumption.

Despite the myriad of evidence gained over the years showing that aspartame is a dangerous toxin, it has remained on the global market with the exception of a few countries that have banned it. In fact, it continued to gain approval for use in new types of food despite evidence showing that it causes neurological brain damage, cancerous tumors, and endocrine disruption, among other things.

The details of aspartame’s history are lengthy, but the point remains that the carcinogen was illegitimately approved as a food additive through heavy-handed prodding by a powerful corporation with its own interests in mind. Practically all drugs and food additives are approved by the FDA not because science shows they are safe but because companies essentially lobby the FDA with monetary payoffs and complete the agency’s multi-million dollar approval process.

Changing aspartame’s name to something that is “appealing and memorable”, in Ajinomoto’s own words, may hoodwink some but hopefully most will reject this clever marketing tactic as nothing more than a desperate attempt to preserve the company’s multi-billion dollar cash cow. Do not be deceived.


Ajinomoto brands aspartame ‘AminoSweet’ – FoodBev.com

Aspartame History Highlights – Janet Starr Hull

FDA’s approval of aspartame under scrutiny – The Globe and Mail (Canada)

An Overdue Ban On A Dangerous Sweetener – Huffington Post



By Megan Treacy

While the BLM is facing a virtual clog of large, desert-based solar project proposals, smaller, distributed solar projects are popping up at an impressive rate. In just the past few weeks, 1,300 MW worth of these projects have been announced or approved, which could equal about the same energy output of a big nuclear power plant.

The larger, more ambitious solar power plans have many environmental and land-use hurdles to clear, while these smaller plans, set to occupy commercial and residential rooftops, areas near electrical substations and urban areas, don’t have the same obstacles in their way. Also, the smaller projects are cheaper, meaning more utilities can afford to implement them as they’re scrambling to meet renewable energy mandates.

Arno Harris, the CEO of Recurrent Energy, a company that has signed a contract with Southern California Edison for 50 MW of small-scale solar, summed it up like this:

“Distributed solar is faster on permitting, on environmental issues and interconnection to the grid. It offers a safety valve for utilities who don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket.”

The projects, anywhere from 50 to 500 MW each, are mainly concentrated in California, though New York Power Authority is planning 100 MW installation around the state as well.

via Green Inc.

By TDG Community

(Photo: Getty Images)

If you thought 2009 was a year that green took over, then think again. Over the next 10 years, the green industry is predicted to experience growth in the neighborhood of 1.5 trillion dollars. Green will continue to shape the foods we eat, the products we buy, and the way we get around — and increasingly the jobs we have.

According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, by 2007, more than 68,200 businesses across the country accounted for more than 770,000 jobs in clean energy, “despite a lack of sustained government support in the past decade.” This is expected to increase with fresh help from the Obama administration. In 2008 alone, private investors directed $5.9 billion into American businesses in this sector, a 48% increase over 2007. This rate should continue to accelerate.

Here are five green careers that are not entirely new, but are now being completely reinvented. If you want to keep a competitive advantage in the workforce, one must learn how these top-growing jobs are “going green.” These fields, according the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), are expected to see a growth from 6% to nearly 30%.

Mechanical Engineer

$59,000 to $94,000 median salary range, according to the BLS. Mechanical engineering will have many opportunities in the future. However, you don’t have to wait to start in green areas of this field. Nearly all energy areas, including wind and solar, need these engineers.

You will need a four-year engineering degree to start. If you have your degree, there are three great websites that can help you work green: the American Wind Energy Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association and the American Solar Energy Society.

Environmental Engineer

$56,000 to $94,000 median salary range (BLS). One of the hardest hit fields in the recent recession has been engineering, due to contractions in the auto industry and infrastructure spending. Fortunately, this profession has numerous applications in the green field.

Environmental engineers are expected to see a 30% increase in jobs over the next ten years. They will be vital in the wind and solar fields. In addition, environmental engineer technicians and civil engineers should see a 25% growth.

If you are looking for a job in this field, a great place to start is the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. You may also want to plug yourself into the Association of Energy Engineers, which offers training for engineers to become energy auditors.

Environmental Educator

$47,000 to $50,000 median salary range (BLS). The teaching field is expected to expand by almost 20% in the coming years. What’s exciting is that weaving green practices into the classroom is becoming much more commonplace. Many schools are on the forefront of using clean energy. And science teachers are in the most demand.

Beyond the basics like environmental science, many community colleges have expanded offerings in courses like solar panel installation and energy efficient building; universities have expanded environmental policy and politics offerings, often developing entirely new departments and curricula; and graduate programs are routinely offering advanced courses in a range of subjects, like corporate sustainability. There are even green MBA programs. All of these new positions need teachers to fill them.

Becoming a teacher involves a college diploma and generally a teaching certificate. If you are an out-of-work professional you may want to consider getting a teaching certificate. While the full degree may cost you around $8 to $20 thousand a year, a teaching certificate may cost around half.

In order to really save money, you might want to consider community college first. This will allow you to take general education classes at a much more affordable price. Don’t forget that there are plenty of student loans available through the federal government. A guidance counselor will be able to point you in the right direction.

Heating and Cooling Installer

$15 to $25/hour (BLS). If you are looking for a great green job and are not interested in the college route, then heating and cooling could be the field for you. It is expected to see more than 28% growth in the coming years. Being able to install an extremely efficient solar water heater can not only put more money in your pocket, it will save the customer money in the long term and help them go green. Installers are able to put some of the most cutting edge energy-saving products to use right away.

Another reason for the strong growth is the increasing emphasis on green building, supported by the United States Green Building Council and the federal and state and local governments. Heating and cooling play a big role in energy saving.

For a more specialized training, look into geothermal. One particular training provider in this area is the GeoExchange, which can help you find the programs to get started today!


$9 to $14/hour (BLS). If you want to get a green job outdoors then this may be the career for you. There are many variations of this job. Tree trimmers, pruners, and landscapers are expected to see more than 26% growth. Green arborists help protect plants from disease and pests with less-toxic, environmentally friendly techniques. They can also work to minimize harmful runoff, protect watersheds, and shade property, which leads to less energy demands for cooling.

A good place to start learning about the career is the Arbor Day Foundation.

Finding a green job is getting easier every day. If these don’t work for you, make sure to check out nearly 100 more at Green Careers Guide.

By The Daily Green Staff
The Apple Tablet (or iSlate, or the iPad, perhaps… no one yet knows) will be unveiled Wednesday, and there’s rampant speculation about what it will look like, what it will do, what apps will work on it … which publishers will make their print publications available on it, whether or not it will help or destroy the book, magazine and/or newspaper industries … and, of course, what Steve Jobs will call it.

What is it? Well, that’s another little detail we don’t know for sure. Newsweek‘s Tectonic Shifts blog put it like this: “After early speculation that the gadget would be a ‘Kindle killer,’ a gaming device, or just a really big iPhone, it appears possible that the Apple slate will be … all of the above.” (The writer then readily admits that the description is just speculation based on speculation.)

What seems clear is that Apple will offer up a new electronic device, bigger than a phone and smaller than a laptop, that performs many of the functions of both, with an added bonus: an e-reader for those aging old print products, like newspapers, magazines and books. (You know, the media that still produce most of the relevant news the rest of us talk about.)

The Daily Green wanted to add some speculation: Is this is a game changer for the environment?

The death of printed media would be an awful thing for a lot of our friends, but it would save about 125,000 trees annually. That’s a lot of trees — enough that a book reader who burns through one new book every two weeks would pay off the environmental debt created by an e-reader in just a year (at least as measured in carbon dioxide emissions). That’s according to a Cleantech analysis that measured the relative impact of e-readers, using the Amazon Kindle as its test case. Of course, because Amazon doesn’t make plain just how resource-intensive the Kindle is, and because many people read fewer than two books a month (or choose borrowed, used or library books rather than buying new hardcovers) the analysis has inspired some persuasive skepticism by Raz Godelnik, CEO of Eco-Libris, an organization trying to reduce the environmental impact of reading. But he’s optimistic about the Apple tablet.

“Although we have had the Kindle and other reading devices around for over two years, we still can’t say if these devices are better for the environment compared to the traditional paper books,” Godelnik said. “We’re still waiting for a life cycle assessment that will tell us if e-readers are greener or not, and one of the reasons we don’t have it yet is that the current manufacturers don’t seem to be willing to provide all the necessary information required for such an assessment. My guestimation is that they just don’t see too much importance in proving that digital books not only save paper, but are actually better for the environment. We hope Apple will look at it differently.”

But one shouldn’t consider only displaced print media in the tablet equation, according to both Godelnik and Christopher P. Conway, of GreenT Digital.

“What you’re going to see is these devices will replace netbooks and laptops, and the Kindle and the nook,” Conway said. “A lot of people may have it be their primary means of accessing the Internet. I think that’s very positive.”

“These devices are 3G-enabled,” Conway added. “It is a game changer. People could stop getting cable Internet at home. If you could do all your social media, emailing, accessing photos … what is really left that you need a desktop or laptop for?” And with those clunky desktops and laptops goes large demands for precious metals and plastics (replacing a 5 or 10-pound laptop or 30-pound desktop with a one-pound tablet) as well as energy (replacing as much as 100 watts of energy demand with as little as 1 watt).

So then, there is some real potential for the Apple Tablet (or whatever it might be called, or whatever tablet manufacturer wins the hearts of the most users) to reduce the strain on the environment caused by both our print and electronic habits … if, that is, it is built smartly and responsibly and we change our existing habits. A big part of the growth in electricity demand in the past decade is the proliferation of electronic devices. A big part of the toxic waste stream is the e-waste from all those discarded last-generation devices. Will we substitute the tablet for our other electronics?

If you are ready to get rid of an old cell phone, laptop, iPhone, digital camera or other electronic device and want to harvest some cash in exchange for it, one option is NextWorth, which will pay you for your old phone. Other recycling options include Dyscern, a 2009 Heart of Green award winner, these four charity cell phone recyclers, and the electronics manufacturers themselves.

Tim Webb
London Guardian
Copenhagen Dampens Banks’ Green Commitment

Banks and investors are pulling out of the carbon market after the failure to make progress at Copenhagen on reaching new emissions targets after 2012.

Carbon financiers have already begun leaving banks in London because of the lack of activity and the drop-off in investment demand. The Guardian has been told that backers have this month pulled out of a large planned clean-energy project in the developing world because of the expected fall in emissions credits after 2012.

Anthony Hobley, partner and global head of climate change and carbon finance at law firm Norton Rose, said: “People will gradually start to leave carbon desks, we are beginning to see that already. We are seeing a freeze in banks’ recruitment plans for the carbon market. It’s not clear at what point this will turn into a cull or a rout.”

Paul Kelly, chief executive of Eco Securities, which develops clean energy projects, said that while markets had not expected a definitive post-Kyoto Protocol deal at Copenhagen, they had expected some progress.

“The lack of regulatory certainty in the post 2012 world affects the market’s view of what CERs [carbon credits from clean energy projects] will be worth and subsequently will constrain financing for projects. If you had an agreement at Copenhagen with a bit more detail, people would be more willing to take risk.”

After two weeks of extenuating talks, world leaders delivered an agreement in Copenhagen that left campaigners disappointed as it failed to commit rich and poor countries to any greenhouse gas emission reductions.

Banks had been scaling back their plans to invest in carbon markets before Copenhagen. Fewer new clean energy projects need to be financed as, because of the recession, there are fewer global emissions to offset. The price of carbon credits has also fallen, while plans to introduce national trading schemes, particularly in the US and Australia, remain uncertain.

Two sources said that Australian bank Westpac had scaled back plans to increase its carbon desk in London. A bank spokeswoman denied there were plans to recruit more staff in London, adding: “We have always said that we would look to grow this business organically as carbon markets develop and that remains the case.”

Carbon markets were central to the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012 and obliged developed countries that exceed their targets to purchase credits from clean energy projects in the developing world. Policymakers will meet again in Mexico in November in an attempt to revive the climate change talks.

By Shane Brennan Inside Costa Rica

The dreams of the Global Renewable Energy Education Network Team transformed into reality over winter break when their renewable energy program in Costa Rica launched its pilot session.

Students landed at the San José airport on Jan. 5 and spent 12 days learning and applying renewable energy ideas, enjoying the environment and giving back to the locals.

“Despite having busy days learning different types of energy sources, we would go out and take on adventures which dealt [with] what we learned,” said Melissa Lee, one of the three founders of the GREEN Team. “For example, for geothermal energy, we went to the hot springs near the hotel.”

Ben Lapidus, another team founder, said the Costa Rican natives were also part of the experience.
“The locals were so interested in what we were doing, and the different adventures that we went on really offered a different environment that no classroom could create,” said Lapidus, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

The trip allowed students to give back to the local community, Lee said.

“We were able to give back to them by developing a rain collection system for a poverty stricken family,” said Lee, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “We left a lasting impression in Costa Rica, and helping out the locals was our favorite part.”

The program concluded with presentations by pairs of students who reflected on what they learned and how to incorporate their ideas back home.

Overall, the pilot session received positive feedback from the 15 students who traveled.
School of Arts and Sciences junior Dinesh Rai was glad she took the opportunity to learn and volunteer abroad.

“It definitely is a lot more fun than book learning. I would not be so motivated to learn more on my own if it was in a traditional classroom setting,” Rai said. “Looking at everything was awesome. The people, culture and country were amazing.”

School of Arts and Sciences junior Krista Bono said one particular activity, The Capstone Project, put what she learned into action.

“It helped us see things in different perspectives and really think about what we experienced over the past couple of days,” Bono said.

The program also enabled students to earn three credits.

“Costa Rica was amazing, and the program allowed me to learn much more than I would have been able to because it was hands-on and more beneficial than a classroom,” said Brady Halligan, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior.

The GREEN Team was created based on three pillars, said founder Mike Naumov.

“Education, adventure and culture is what this program is all about,” said Naumov, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

The trip’s itinerary was set up so the students could experience all three aspects, Lee said.
Lapidus is optimistic of the program’s future because of its popularity and the recent awareness for environmental protection.

“[Going] green is becoming a big trend. There are going to be a lot of job opportunities opening up for all majors,” Lapidus said. “Our goal is to create a program which will harvest awareness and teach students the major impact it will have.”

Katherine Goldstein
Huffington Post

While debates about the economy, unemployment and the effectiveness of the stimulus plan continue to rage throughout the country, their appears to be a bright spot for proponents of clean energy stimulus spending.

According to Whitehouse.gov, the release of the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) 4th Quarter 2009 industry assessment(PDF) indicates that stimulus spending is directly responsible for turning a potential 50% decline in growth in the wind power sector into a 39% increase in growth in the country’s fleet of wind plants in 2009 alone.

“The U.S. wind industry shattered all installation records in 2009, and this was directly attributable to the lifeline that was provided by the stimulus package,” Denise Bode, the trade association’s chief executive told The New York Times Deal Book Blog. “The second half of the year was extraordinary. But manufacturers didn’t see much growth because they had built up so much inventory.”

The White House also points out the environmental benefits to this economic growth: “America’s wind power fleet will avoid an estimated 62 million tons of greenhouse gases annually, equivalent to taking 10.5 million cars off the road. ”

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) co-author of the Waxman-Markey clean energy bill, praised the results of the assessment: “In 2009, America’s wind capacity grew by nearly 40 percent – blowing past the expectations that existed prior to the passage of the Recovery Act, These numbers show the potential for growth in clean energy, if only our country will make a commitment to these technologies.”

The AWEA report also points out, however, that “The wind manufacturing sector has the potential to employ many more Americans in green jobs, but without a renewable electricity standard to provide a long-term market, the sector will be slow to grow.”