Stevia-derived sweeteners are already available in specialty stores. The FDA will decide whether stevia extracts are safe enough to be used as an additive in processed foods.
"A sweetener perceived as natural is always going to meet with greater consumer favor than one that isn't," said Michael Jacobson, Center for Science in the Public Interest. "Just because it's natural doesn't mean that it's safe. And that's why tests should be done."
The Center for Science in the Public Interest says stevia may be linked to genetic mutations in lab animals which could lead to cancer. But scientists with the World Health Organization say the products are safe.