Something to think about: The IGTC
History tells us that in 1969, the International Glutamate Technical Committee (IGTC) was founded as an association of companies engaged in the manufacture, sale and commercial use of glutamates. It sponsored, gathered, and disseminated research on the use and safety of monosodium glutamate; designed and implemented research protocols and provided financial assistance to researchers; promoted acceptance of monosodium glutamate as a food ingredient and represented members’ collective interests. Those collective interests were to sell monosodium glutamate. It would appear that the IGTC was the brainchild of Ajinomoto Co., a leading manufacturer of monosodium glutamate. Or possibly Andrew Ebert, long time chairman of the IGTC, thought up the whole thing. Ebert had been with Minnesota Mining and Minerals when they were producing MSG.
It was reported in 1994 that the IGTC was an association composed of physicians and/or scientists either employed by producers or users of glutamic acid and its salts, or doing research on it in university laboratories. Its annual budget was $250,000. Membership was $2,000/year, with Ajinomoto making up any shortfall between member-provided funds and that quarter-million.
In 1977, the IGTC spun off The Glutamate Association, with both organizations having close ties to the Robert H. Kellen Company of Atlanta, Ga. and Washington, DC. Kellen is a trade organization and association management firm that specializes in the food, pharmaceutical, and healthcare industries. In 1992, Andrew (Andy) Ebert, Ph.D., chairman of the IGTC, was also senior vice president of The Kellen Company.
Once established, the IGTC assembled a cadre of scientists and others who conducted research for them and/or spoke publicly about the safety of monosodium glutamate. In the 1970s and 1980s, research sponsors were acknowledged.
The names of researchers Altman, Anantharaman, Auer, Bunyan, Ebert, Fernstrom, Filer, Garattini, Geha, Germano, Giacometti, Goldschmiedt, Heywood, Iwata, Kelly, Kenney, Kerr, Matsuzawa, Morselli, Newman, Owen, Patterson, Pulce, Reynolds, Saxon, Schiffman, Simon, Stegink, Stevenson, Takasaki, Tarasoff, Williams, Woessner, and Yang were notable, although there were others. In the late 1990s the names Torii, Shi, Jinap and Hajeb were added to the roster.
Steve Taylor deserves special mention. Although a prominent representative of the glutamate industry, he’s not included with the others because his ties to the IGTC have not openly been acknowledged. Although Taylor has repeatedly spoken out about the safety of MSG, only once to our knowledge has he acknowledged his ties to the IGTC.
When he introduces himself, he typically refers to his University of Nebraska affiliation, but not to the fact that he’s an agent of the IGTC.
Until he was mentioned to the FDA as having been responsible for supplying placebos containing excitotoxic aspartic acid (in aspartame) to the researchers conducting glutamate-safety double-blind studies for him, Ebert had been key to the research operations of the IGTC. This professionally respected pharmacologist and toxicologist had been with the IGTC from the beginning, recruiting researchers to carry out the research designed for them. In each case, that research has enabled Ebert’s people to proclaim (without justification) that a new study has demonstrated that monosodium glutamate is a harmless food additive.
Ebert was the face of the IGTC, and his influence can still be felt at every level. He’s served on the FDA Food Advisory Committee; the Grocery Manufacturers of America (Technical Committee on Food Protection, the Codex Subcommittee on Food Additives and the GRAS-FASEB Monograph Committee); the National Food Processors Association; the Institute of Food Technology (Technology Toxicology and Safety Evaluation Division, and Scientific Lecturer); the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences Assembly of Life Sciences (Food and Nutrition Board: the Committee on Food Protection, and the GRAS List Survey); the AMA (Industry Liaison Panel); the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Food Standards Program as an industry observer; and the International Food Additives Council as executive director.
As a food industry pharmacologist and toxicologist, Ebert has provided scientific and technical expertise for programs of many associations managed by The Kellen Company.
It looks like since he was exposed for supplying excitotoxin-containing placebos to his researchers, Ebert no longer sits as chairman of the IGTC.
In 2009, his name appeared as being on the IGTC Executive Committee. His move from the glutamate industry limelight coincided with the posting of information on the Truth in Labeling Campaign website about his role in designing the IGTC’s “scientific” studies and supplying aspartame-laced placebos (placebos that cause reactions similar, if not identical, to those caused by MSG) to his researchers. Toward the end of the 1990s, we began to see the names of Takeshi Kimura and Yoshi-hisa Sugita, Ph.D., associated with the IGTC. Both Kimura and Sugita came from Ajinomoto.
Jumping ahead to 2022, it looked like the IGTC had moved its offices to Brussels, with Michael Rogers, IGTC chairman, leaving The Glutamate Association and its International Glutamate Information Service (IGIS) to run Ajinomoto’s U.S. operation while the IGTC continues to focus on whatever it will take (no holds barred) to keep MSG profitable. According to the Global Civil Society Database the IGTC’s aims are to “study, assemble and disseminate scientific data and information related to all aspects of the safety, quality and use of glutamate and its salts, particularly monosodium glutamate with a particular emphasis on their use in foods for human beings; promote the uses of glutamates as food ingredients especially on an international level.” The six organizations that carry out its work are:
EUROPE — PARIS
European Committee for Umami (ECU)
JAPAN — TOKYO
Amino Acids Seasoning Alliance of Northeast Asia (ASANA)
REPUBLIC OF CHINA — TAIPEI
Taiwan Amino Acid Manufacturers Association ROC (TAAMA)
SOUTH AMERICA — SAO PAULO
Institute for Glutamate Sciences in South America (IGSSA)
SOUTHEAST ASIA — BANGKOK
Regional Committee for Glutamate Sciences (RCGS)
U.S.A. — WASHINGTON, DC
The Glutamate Association United States (TGA)
The IGTC no longer sponsors studies alleging to demonstrate the safety of MSG. Instead, they sponsor consensus meetings to which they send delegates who discuss the safety of MSG and submit reports of their meetings to any media that will take them.