What’s in a Name: Corn Syrup Goes Corn Sugar

Would corn syrup by any other name taste as sweet?

Tired of its bad rap, America’s favorite subsidized industry is changing its ways.  Not by creating a better or more sale-able product, mind you, but by embarking on a new, highly-subsidized marketing campaign!

The Corn Refiners Association has deemed “high fructose corn syrup” a tainted phrase, and is seeking FDA clearance to change the name to “”corn sugar.”

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“We hope to erase consumer confusion,” said Audrae Erickson, president of the Washington, D.C., trade group, which has been waging a two-year campaign to dispel the growing perception among some consumers that the corn industry’s sweetener isn’t as natural as sugar.

You may have seen the trade group’s advertising campaign trying to sway public opinion, and attempting to convince food manufacturers–from Starbucks to Kraft Foods not to remove high fructose corn syrup from its list of ingredients and replace it with “real sugar.”

Notorious for actually diminishing consumers’ ability to metabolize food, the sweetener formerly known as High Fructose Corn Syrup first appeared on the market in the late ’70’s.  Hefty sugar tariffs imposed in 1977 drove food producers to seek substitutes for natural sugar.

American manufacturers now use high fructose corn syrup to sweeten most consumer products.  Coke and Pepsi use natural sugar in all of their sodas abroad, but stick to cheaper corn syrup in the US.  Many nutritionists even blame this concentrated syrup for spikes in American obesity and lagging health.

Wikipedia blurbs health studies on HFCS’s health impact:

Two experiments done by Princeton University fed rats water sweetened with either HFCS or table sugar (glucose) but kept food calories the same for all rats. The study found that rats who consume water sweetened with HFCS gained 48 percent more weight then water sweetened with sucrose despite an identical caloric intake.

The second experiment monitored the rats’ overall health for six months and found that rats who consumed HFCS developed signs of metabolic syndrome. It also found that every HFCS rat became obese while not every sucrose rat did. This study has been cited as causal proof for obesity in America since the HFCS rats had worse outcomes then the sucrose rats.

Yet corn remains among the most protected products in the American economy.  In 2005 alone the American government propped up the corn industry to the tune of $10,121,533,998.

That’s ten billion government dollars — those are our taxes — on top of whatever market demand — that’s our preference — yields for ethanol, sweetener, etc.  In other words, we’re willing to pay some amount, but through a series of rationally ignorant loops we wind up paying corn farmers ten billion dollars more than market yield to farm more corn.

How many jobs might be created or saved if those corn farmers moved to jobs where they’d be putting more into the economy than they’re taking out?

When it comes to the sweet stuff, it’s transparently bad juju for the corn industry to embark on a subsidized ad campaign to trick Americans into eating more unhealthy high fructose corn syrup.  Let’s  tear down those tariffs instead and see what the market really wants in terms of nourishment.

Fact Sheet re King Corn

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1 Comment

Filed under Business, Economy, Food

One response to “What’s in a Name: Corn Syrup Goes Corn Sugar

  1. Roy

    What’s in a name? Back in 2000, the California prune growers and packers decided they wanted to call their product something else: Dried Plums. So, packaged prunes have been labeled, “dried plums,” ever since. This is funny. The “corn sugar” thing would be funny too if it were not for health risks associated with corn syrup.

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