Kennedy is a former head of the FDA and current editor-in-chief of Science Magazine. In his email correspondence with her, he shares his concerns about aspartame's potential toxicity:
"The whole sweeteners issue has interested me since my early time at FDA … A little later, still during my time as Commissioner I was called on by Don Rumsfeld, who introduced himself as the CEO of Searle …
[W]e told him that we would look carefully at the evidence and rely on our expert committee structure as usual.
Aspartame continued to attract concerned critics, and we at FDA saw no resumption of Searle's effort to get it approved. I looked up one piece on that history, which I append below. Not a very nice story.
'In 1985 Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle, the chemical company that held the patent to aspartame, the active ingredient in NutraSweet.
Monsanto was apparently untroubled by aspartame's clouded past, including a 1980 FDA Board of Inquiry, comprised of three independent scientists, which confirmed that it 'might induce brain tumors.'
The FDA had actually banned aspartame based on this finding, only to have Searle Chairman Donald Rumsfeld … vow to 'call in his markers,' to get it approved' … "
In her correspondence with Kennedy, Abrams also noted her own adverse reactions to NutraSweet, noting that:
"… I think it is poison … Doctors will swear to me it is fine, and I will tell them, maybe I'm the only person in the world who reacts like this, but clearly it affects me, and then they'll tell me again, it is fine. They are so brainwashed by the propaganda, they refuse to believe anything contrary.
I also have a friend who worked for the researchers at University of Chicago (which has a top rated neurology dept [sic]) and the doctors there said when they gave NutraSweet to lab mice, it literally blew holes in their brains."