The PJ Tatler

Subsidized Court Battle: Big Corn, Big Sugar Go to Court to Define ... 'Sugar'

On Wednesday, the corn cartel and the sugar cartel will head to court to settle their differences over the meaning of the word … “sugar.” The hearing affects you, as both industries are heavily subsidized by your wallet:

Trade restrictions on imported sugar that aim to protect America’s 4,714 sugar growers from foreign competition cost American consumers about $3.7 billion annually. Meanwhile the federal subsidies for corn — used to produce high fructose corn syrup — average around $5 billion per year.

The legal action was prompted by the Corn Refiners Association’s attempt to redefine or rename “high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)” as “corn sugar” in light of bad nutritional publicity about HFCS and obesity. The corn cartel ran an advertisement trying to “transition” from HFCS to corn sugar that showed a father and daughter walking together in a corn field.

The father tells his daughter: “Your body can’t tell the difference. Sugar is sugar.”

This is true. “fructose,” “agave,” and all other marketing ploys designed to make sugar something else are lies. And sugar is indeed bad for you. But the commercial did not please the Western Sugar Cooperative and other sugar businesses.

Sugar filed suit against the corn refiners, Archer Daniels Midland Co., and Cargill Inc. for false advertising in the amount of $2B.

The corn cartel countersued, of course:

[Big Corn is] charging the sugar industry with making false and misleading statements that included a comment that high fructose corn syrup is as addictive as crack cocaine. They are seeking $530 million.

Corn refiners will present evidence that the sugar industry was behind the pounding that high fructose corn syrup took in public opinion as sugar tried to regain market share it lost when food producers switched to the cheaper corn product that came on the market in the 1970s.

“We were just getting torpedoed in the press with all this junk science about high fructose corn syrup,” said attorney Neil Murphy, who represents corn refiners. “They were feeding the media.”

The result was that several companies did indeed ditch HFCS for sugar.

But the sugar cartel also has some sweet evidence to present. Said Mark Lanier, sugar lawyer:

We’ve got the ad men saying that after they deal with their client, the corn refiners, they have to take a shower because they feel so dirty. It tells you that this was not an ad agency gone amok. This was a client pushing an ad agency amok.

At least one expert favors the corn posse on the science. (Baseball fans, commence snickering at his familiar name and resume):

Science favors corn on that point, said Roger A. Clemens, a University of Southern California research professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical science who has studied sugars.

Explains the AP:

The two products are nearly identical and are metabolized the same, he said. Sugar is sucrose, which is half fructose, half glucose. High-fructose corn syrup is 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose.

The Food and Drug Administration, which spends taxpayer money to make sure that words are properly used when describing food products, has ruled that sugar is “granular,” not a “syrup.” So corn folks lost the battle with the FDA.

The trial is expected to last around three weeks. PJ Media will keep you updated as the lawsuit unfolds.