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Artificial Sweetener Is Toxic To Fruit Flies: Study

Update Date: Jun 06, 2014 02:42 PM EDT
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The main ingredient of the sweetener Truvia, erythritol,  is toxic to Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies, according to a new study. However this doesn't mean anyone using Truvia to sweeten their eatables is in danger. 

Erythritol is naturally occurring compound that is present in several types of fruits. It's sweet like table sugar but doesn't carry any calories. Previously studies have proven that humans possess a high tolerance for the compound and eventually it was approved as food additive in 2001 by the Food and Drug Administration. 

Interestingly, the study is the brainchild of a 12-year-old and was started out as a middle school science project. 

"We are not going to see the planet sprayed with erythritol, and the chances for widespread crop application are slim," Sean O'Donnell, a professor of biology at Drexel University in Philadelphia who worked on the experiment, said in a statement. "But on a small scale, in places where insects will come to a bait, consume it and die, this could be huge." 

Researchers added that unlike synthetic insecticides, an erythritol-based insecticide would be nontoxic to humans and would be even 'eco-friendly'.

Researchers are yet to explain exactly how erythritol kills the flies but other studies have shown that it can inhibit an insect's ability to absorb nutrients and water and their ability to move around, LiveScience reported. 

Reportedly, researchers are seeking to patent the erythritol-based insecticide idea. 

The study is published in the journal PLoS ONE. 

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