Gilbert, AZ (06/18/10) – Long time stevia patron Jim May has been awarded a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the burgeoning industry at the Stevia World Europe conference in Geneva.

May, who is founder and president of the SweetLeaf® Stevia brand, began importing stevia into the United States in 1982 and worked for over 25 years to achieve regulatory approval. He was lauded for his leadership in spawning a new industry, for championing stevia as an agricultural crop in developing countries for family farmers, and for promoting stevia as a natural sweetener that could have a role in fighting childhood obesity and preventing diabetes.

“I have dedicated a significant part of my life to bringing this wonderful natural sweetener to the market,” May said upon receiving the award, from Stevia World International, last month. “I had a deep and enduring faith for the day stevia would come. Judging by the accelerating demand we are experiencing in the market, the consumer is exhibiting a strong preference for natural stevia extract over synthetic and controversial caloric alternatives.”

Following a positive opinion from EFSA, EU-wide approval of sweeteners with a high steviol glycoside content is expected in the near future.

About SweetLeaf® Stevia
It all started with one man who had a dream – Jim May, Founder of Wisdom Natural Brands®. Stevia is a naturally sweet herb native to Paraguay that has been consumed for centuries. After tasting stevia leaves given to him by a Peace Corps worker, May made it his mission to bring the extract from the deliciously sweet plant to the United States. May is world known as “The Father of Stevia.” The process involves taking the highest-quality leaves of the stevia plant and extracting their naturally sweet taste with only cool, purified water – no chemicals, solvents or additives that adulterate and cover up the great taste created by nature.

May first traveled to Paraguay to import stevia in 1982. His most satisfying victory came in 2008, when GRAS Associates and Life Science Research Office, two completely independent panels of scientists, awarded SweetLeaf® Stevia GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status, pursuant to FDA regulations. This allowed SweetLeaf® products made from its new, revolutionary extraction technology to be labeled as sweeteners. SweetLeaf® could finally use the word “sweet” to describe its product, now known as SweetLeaf® Sweetener. The FDA granted a no-questions letter to SweetLeaf®‘s GRAS status in 2009, validating all the hard work done by May over more than a quarter of a century.

Wisdom Natural Brands®, a leading U.S. manufacturer of stevia products, offers SweetLeaf® Sweetener in convenient double-serving packets. SweetLeaf Sweetener is sold in boxes containing either 50 or 100 packets. Each packet replaces two teaspoons of sugar. SweetLeaf® is also sold in the SweetLeaf® Stevia Plus® Shaker Bottle for easy home use and SweetLeaf® SteviaTabs® Dissolvable Tablets for easy on-the-go use.

Today, May is a leading expert on stevia and travels across the Americas promoting the benefits of the stevia plant.

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