In response to the declining consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), the Corn Refiners’ Association has asked the FDA for permission to change the name to “corn sugar.” Isn’t that typical of special interest groups — find a new way to market an old product in order to fool the public. This, in the face of serious concerns by scientists and consumers about the health and environmental impacts of HFCS.
In retaliation to this maneuver, the sugar industry (Western Sugar Cooperative, Michigan Sugar Co. and C&H Sugar Company Inc.) has filed a lawsuit against several corn processors and their lobbying group. I love this!
You may have noticed that the corn producers are launching an extensive marketing campaign through print, television and on line to assure consumers that HFSC, or now “corn sugar” is perfectly safe and nutritionally the same as sugar.
Inder Mathur, the president and CEO of Western Sugar Cooperative, (which represents about 1,000 American sugar beet farmers) says “the suit is about false advertising, pure and simple.”
The defendants, Archer Daniels Midland Co., Cargill Inc., Corn Products International Inc., and others, as well as their marketing and lobbying organization the Corn Refiners Association, Inc., say that the marketing campaign and reason for changing the name is for “education, not marketing.”
Recently there has been a lot of debate about the detrimental effects of sugar in general and HFCS in particular. Many nutritionists argue that the addition of HFCS to the food supply is part of what is driving the obesity and diabetes epidemic in this country today. The lower cost of using HFCS has made it attractive to manufactures of soda, cereal, bread and ketchup as well as other products. In fact, it has replaced sugar in many products in the food supply today. This is a stark example of the food industry using ingredients based on cost rather than on quality and safety.
In typical fashion, the American Medical Association reserves judgement, wanting more research. However, there is already plenty of research that shows the difference between beet or cane sugar and HFCS. They are metabolized quite differently, with HFCS stressing the liver. This can lead to a fatty liver and to diabetes.
President of the Corn Refiners Association, Audrae Erickson, states, “sugar is sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and sugar are nutritionally and metabolically equivalent … the name ‘corn sugar’ more accurately describes this sweetener and helps clarify food product labeling for manufacturers and consumers alike.”
In the face of research showing just the opposite, who does she think she is kidding? When there are billions of dollars at stake, of course you will hear such rhetoric. Their defense — that HFCS makes many healthy foods palatable and affordable — is ridiculous when you realize that they are claiming that sugary (or in this case, syrupy) cereals, sodas, breads and cakes are healthy.
In our movement against the corporate giants that dominate the food supply this is a humorous respite. Perhaps we should just sit back, let them duke it out between themselves and enjoy the show.
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