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.