The leaves of Stevia, or Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni plant produces extracts known as Steviosides which can be up to 300 times sweeter than sucrose sugar. In 1970 the Japanese began extracting the pure sweet powder found in the leaf for testing and commercial use. Stevia sweeteners have been fully approved and widely used in Japan since 1970 in food products and soft drinks and for table-top use. It is also fully approved and in use in Brazil, where it is also recommended for diabetics.
While not approved as a food additive in the United States, it can be found as a Dietary Supplement, or as an ingredient in some dietary supplements. It is thought in some groups that lobbying pressure by chemical companies producing synthetic sugar substitutes are delaying the approval in the United States, but this may be a conspiracy theory.