American sugar growers and refiners have filed a suit to stop corn processors from marketing high-fructose corn syrup as a natural product equivalent to sugar. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles by the Western Sugar Cooperative, Michigan Sugar Company and C & H Sugar. It charges that the high fructose corn syrup branding campaign constitutes false advertising under federal and state law.
Corn Refiners Association President Audrae Erickson says the case has no merit.
"They are alleging that the campaign that the Corn Refiners Association is using is marketing in nature," Erickson said. "We believe it is not marketing. We have been engaged in an educational exercise to inform consumers what this ingredient really is; that it is a sugar made from corn. The CRA doesn't sell a product or promote the purchase of a product. In fact consumers cannot buy high fructose corn syrup yet consumers are the focus of our educational efforts."
Erickson says their campaign was launched as a way to combat misinformation about high-fructose corn syrup causing obesity. She says science shows corn sugar is no different than any other sugar.
"These sugars are equivalent and much credible research has proven the fact that the human metabolizes these sugars the same," Erickson said. "The sugars are delivered to the bloodstream as fructose and glucose and the body can't tell what the originating source was. It is just not possible for the body to see any difference in these sugars and that's been confirmed by the American Dietetic Association, the American Medical Association and others."
Erickson says it is unfortunate one sector of the ag industry would sue another for its own marketing gain.
"In this case the sugar industry suing the corn industry alleging that only the sugar industry has the rights to the term sugar when in fact there are many added sugars in the diet," Erickson said. "Table sugar of course, but there are table sugars coming from maple trees, honeybees and high fructose corn syrup, which is simply the same two sugar components, fructose and glucose, as table sugar."
Companies named as defendants include ADM and Cargill. The Western Sugar Cooperative includes about 1,000 sugar beet farmers in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and Montana.