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James May, “Father of Stevia,” Dies at 80

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James A. May,  the founder and CEO of Gilbert, AZ-based Wisdom Natural Brands, died from heart complications at the age of 80.

May, whose company makes SweetLeaf Stevia Sweetener, is known globally as the Father of Stevia. He has received numerous awards for his contributions to the natural and organic sweetener industry, including being the first to bring stevia to the U.S. in 1982.

He was instrumental in helping the U.S. Food and Drug Administration lift the importation ban of stevia by meeting with Congress in 1994, which eventually resulted in the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act.

SweetLeaf Stevia was the first stevia product to receive FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe status in March 2008.

After starting the business in his garage in Scottsdale, AZ, May grew Wisdom Natural Brands to sell SweetLeaf products throughout North America and in 30 countries.

His wife, Carol May, will continue to run the family-owned business as president, along with their son, Michael P. May, who is the chief operating officer.

Article is courtesy of the Phoenix Business Journal. 

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