Free speech is not a right where certain corporations and criticism of their products are concerned, comments Robin Good of masternewmedia.org.
"In an alternative health newsletter I read came some interesting and disturbing news about free speech on the Internet. Dr. Joseph Mercola, whose Mercola.com website and newsletter are among the most widely read sources of alternative health-care information, has been coerced into blocking readers in the U.K. from reading his opinions about a controversial sugar alternative called Splenda.
Tate & Lyle, whose researchers developed sucralose (later branded as Splenda), joined forces with multinational firm Johnson & Johnson to market sucralose under the auspices of a new company, McNeil Nutritionals. So you can see why Mercola might feel compelled to respond to a legal threat from an entity with very deep pockets.
I find it sad that a corporation would try to squelch legitimate criticism of its product in this manner. Indeed, I'd suggest that it's counterproductive. These types of situations tend to get lots of publicity, and Splenda's safety as a food likely will become a larger issue. I wonder when corporations will get on the Cluetrain (http://www.cluetrain.com/) and understand that in our digitally networked world, it's better to publicly engage critics in a dialog rather than try to shut them down with brute force.
Silencing Mercola's point of view will only spawn a thousand other Internet critics who won't be cowed."
As we have already seen with Aspartame, the FDA and other countries' health authorities are largely standing by the side of manufacturers, when there are public doubts and complaints of adverse effects regarding artificial sugar substitutes, or any of their 'approved' products including pharmaceutical medicines. Once approved, these things seem to have a strange immunity to critical questions and even to voluminous information about actual adverse effects associated with them. We have seen this with Vioxx, the painkiller withdrawn only after tens of thousands of deaths were linked to it. We are seeing it again with psychiatric drugs that lead to suicide and violence and are still available.
With suppression of information and a public system of "health protection" that does not seem to function, we will just have to arm ourselves with information and make some conscious choices. After all, it's us who are buying or not buying, and there is no way any corporation will continue producing something they can't sell...
Here is the article in The Ecologist: