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Are Sugar And High Fructose Corn Syrup The Same?
- Updated: November 5, 2015
The sugar industry and high fructose corn syrup producers are meeting in a Los Angeles federal courtroom in their struggle over whether sugar and high fructose corn syrup are essentially the same. Corn refiners say that high-fructose corn syrup is natural and “nutritionally the same as table sugar.” A lawsuit brought by sugar processors’ say those statements are false. The trial is expected to last about three weeks.
In 2008, corn refiners launched an advertising campaign calling high fructose corn syrup “corn sugar.” The advertising also claimed that the body cannot tell the difference between the two. In 2011, the Western Sugar Cooperative and other sugar processors sued a group of corn refiners to stop the campaign. The corn refiners filed a countersuit arguing the sugar industry was pushing misinformation about high-fructose corn syrup to protect their market share. The sugar industry is seeking $1.5 billion in damages from the corn refiners. The corn refiners are seeking $530 million in damages from the sugar industry.
The advertising was described by the attorney for the corn refiners as an effort to combat falsehoods and junk science pushed by the sugar industry. Corn syrup producers say the sugar industry has been engaged in a campaign of misinformation for years. After high fructose corn syrup became commercially available in the 1970s, sugar began losing its hold on the sweetener market. Roughly 10 years ago, the sugar industry began pushing unsubstantiated claims about corn syrup being worse for health than sugar, according to the attorney.
According to the corn refiners’ position, both sugar and corn syrup are processed,with the only difference being that corn sugar is made from corn. The corn refiners claimed that the Sugar Association falsely claimed in its newsletter that corn syrup causes obesity and cancer. The outcome of the billion-dollar battle could have wide ranging effects on both the sugar industry and the high-fructose corn syrup industry. The case has been delayed by years of legal wrangling.
The Corn Refiners Association also complains that sugar growers benefit from generous U.S. government subsidies and they will be challenging sugar’s protected status with the help of a Washington lobbyist hired earlier this year. Both sugar and high-fructose corn syrup have been blamed for contributing to a host of health issues, ranging from diabetes and obesity to tooth decay. In 2004, a report by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked corn syrup to obesity. In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that high fructose corn syrup could not be called sugar.