Sugar Versus Corn Syrup: The Debate Rages On

It’s official–the war between sugar and corn syrup is on. The case, which will be heard in court by a Los Angeles federal judge beginning Wednesday, is based on accusations that the corn industry used false advertising in their campaign, saying that “your body can’t tell the difference” between corn syrup and real sugar.

The ad campaign, run by the Corn Refiners Association, has been going on for a few years. The ads state that corn-based syrup is “nutritionally the same as table sugar.” The plaintiffs, led by Western Sugar Corp., claim this is not true.

Adam Fox, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, states that the corn industry promoters, “characterize high fructose corn syrup as a natural product. It is not — it is man-made…yet they are advertising it as identical to sugar cane and sugar beets.”

Dan K. Webb, lead attorney for the corn refiners, states, “It is wrong for the refined sugar industry to try to stifle this truthful speech.”

The lawsuit is likely to bring more skepticism to high fructose corn syrup, increasing the public’s concern about the health effects of the corn-based sugar.

The surgeon general first expressed concern a decade ago about the rapid spread of the sugar-substitute in processed foods. And, if you look at the products currently in your pantry, you will see that most of them contain some form of corn syrup.

Sugar producers plan to show evidence that corn syrup has been linked to the rise in obesity and diabetes. Webb defends the product, saying that:

“Good science proves that obesity is caused by the overconsumption of calories from any source, not from one ingredient…USDA data shows that consumption of high fructose corn syrup has actually been in decline, while obesity rates are rising. It is just wrong for the plaintiffs to claim that high fructose corn syrup is uniquely responsible for obesity.”

The L.A. Times checked in with a researcher, who advised that there are more “negative effects” from higher fructose–and the name high fructose corn syrup means that the product qualifies.

The association that represents the corn growers (including giants like Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. and Cargill Inc.) have recently submitted an application to the FDA to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to “corn sugar” for labeling purposes. It is likely the sugar team will try to use this against them in the coming trial.

Do you think that high fructose corn syrup and table sugar are the same? Should the Corn Refiners Association be made to pay damages for “false advertising?”

Check out what some Doctors are saying about high fructose corn syrup (and the commercials from the Corn Refiners Association):