November 16, 2015

Sugar is sugar. Not lawsuits.


If sugar is sugar, then what is the fuss about and why are two groups in agriculture against each other?

Recently, an ongoing lawsuit has shown its ugly head coming from eight makers of processed table sugar and two sugar trade associations suing the Corn Refiners Association (CRA), claiming that their public education campaign is "false and misleading." The public education campaign initiated by CRA was to communicate the simple fact that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a form of sugar, widely accepted in the medical and nutrition communities to be nutritionally equivalent to other forms of sugar, including table sugar.

In October 2011, the Court ruled that Plaintiffs (refined sugar industry) failed to present any evidence that they have been injured by CRA’s statements, or that CRA’s speech has influenced any consumer purchasing decisions. The Court also ruled that CRA’s speech was “in furtherance of the exercise of the constitutional right of petition or the constitutional right of free speech in connection with a public issue or an issue of public interest.”

Now, the CRA member companies have also filed a Counterclaim against The Sugar Association based on The Sugar Association’s false and misleading representations that processed sugar is different from HFCS in ways that are beneficial to consumers’ health. The Counterclaim further alleges that The Sugar Association’s statements deceive consumers into believing that they will be healthier if they consume foods and beverages with processed sugar instead of HFCS. The lawsuit is scheduled for a jury trial to begin in November 2015 in federal court in Los Angeles, California.

For one, as a consumer – I believe sugar is sugar. Two - I find it disgusting that the two processed sugar companies are having to attack each other. Agriculture is already small (2% of the population), so why the need to fight amongst ourselves.

As corn farmers, we obviously want to continue to have HFCS as an option because it provides a market for our corn. But all of us are consumers (because we all eat!), and we have choices! We can drink our pop with HFCS or we can choose to eat a refined sugar-filled candy bar. News flash – neither is “healthier”/good or bad for us – but we have a choice to eat what we want. Also, HFCS is not only a sweetener, it also is used to keep foods fresher longer, like breads and frozen foods.

Fear-mongering is what the refined sugar association is building. They are misleading consumers to believe that sugar from beets or sugar cane is “healthier” than corn. All three of these are plants – grown naturally – so this claim is ridiculous. Sugar is sugar and we all have the choice to consume it or not.

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