Monday, October 31, 2011

Guest columnist: Disparaging corn and our way of life

Foes of corn are trying to block the use of the term 'corn sugar' on food labels.

As a fourth generation Iowa farmer, it’s hard for me to stand by as opponents attack high fructose corn syrup with inaccuracy after inaccuracy. And when they attack it, make no mistake: They are disparaging corn and our way of life in Iowa.

We are now in the midst of harvesting one of Iowa’s most valuable commodities — a high quality and safe product, a product that rightly instills pride among millions of Midwesterners. But when it comes to high fructose corn syrup — also a high quality and safe product made in our state — misinformation abounds. Foes of HFCS are throwing around bad science and are attacking corn, our livelihood.

Mark Twain wisely advised: “When in doubt, tell the truth.”

A petition before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeks approval to allow the alternate name “corn sugar” for “high fructose corn syrup” as an option on food ingredient labels.

The truth is the term “corn sugar” more accurately describes what this ingredient actually is — a sugar made from corn. Ingredient names on food labels should be clear and reflect in no uncertain terms what the ingredient is. You can’t get much clearer than “corn sugar.” This alternate name will enable consumers to better identify added sugars in the foods they purchase and clear up lingering consumer confusion.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

FAT? Want To Know Why!

Are you overweight and can't seem to loose any excess weight no matter how hard you try? The answer might be a simple one. Do the research. A major cause of obesity is HFCS. This is high fructose corn syrup, not the more common sucrose (table sugar). You see those magnificant corporations saw a way to make more profit sweetening snacks with HFCS than regular sugar. Your body metabolizes HFCS differently than table sugar. DO THE RESEARCH.

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Citizens for Health Denounces High Fructose Corn Syrup Name Change

Leading Consumer Action Group Rallies Over 100,000 Supporters to Oppose Corn Refiners Association's FDA Petition

Misleading advertising and unproven scientific claims made about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) are being called "Food Identity Theft" by Citizens for Health, one of the nation's oldest and most respected consumer action groups.

The non-profit organization is mobilizing its roster of over 100,000 Americans to denounce the $50 million ad campaign sponsored by the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) which implies that HFCS is the same as sugar, and oppose the CRA's petition filed with the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to label HFCS as "corn sugar" on ingredients panels that would conceal this man-made sweetener from consumers.

"Millions of Americans are choosing to avoid products that contain HFCS. But many don't know that the corporations that make it want to change the name High Fructose Corn Syrup to 'corn sugar,'" said James Gormley, Vice President and Senior Policy Advisor of Citizens for Health. "If the FDA were to allow this, we'd never know if it's in the foods we're feeding our families."

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A—MAIZE—ing: Corn, high fructose corn syrup in soda and everywhere else

I'm here to introduce the triumph of the plant world: Zea mays or, as we commonly know it, corn. Corn was, in many ways, what separated successful villages or colonies from those that dwindled or faded out of existence. This is because corn can be used as both a commodity and a food source.

Even while venturing through the grocery store today, corn is a lot more than a cob — it's in the canyons of breakfast cereals, shelves of snacks and canopies of soft drinks.

In America convenience is critical. Let'shead to the processed food isle, where we find chicken nuggets. A chicken nugget piles corn upon corn: What chicken is contained consists of corn, including modified corn starch that acts as an adhesive — holding the chicken together — the corn flour in the batter that coats the nugget and the corn oil in which it is cooked. Then you have the leavenings and lecithin, the mono-, di- and triglycerides, the attractive golden coloring and even the citric acid, which keeps the nugget "fresh." This can all be derived from corn.

To wash down your chicken nuggets with virtually any soft drink, you can have some corn with your corn.

In 1984, Pepsi and Coca-Cola announced plans to stop using sugar in soft drinks, replacing the sweetener with high fructose corn syrup. After water, corn sweetener is now both drinks' No. 2 ingredient. Grab a beer instead and you'd still be drinking corn, in the form of alcohol, fermented from glucose and refined from corn.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup Lawsuit Goes Another Round

Well, I know sugar. Sugar is a good friend (often foe) of mine. And high fructose corn syrup (HCFS), you are no sugar.

Watching the the sugar industry and the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) duke it out in court over whether HCFS should be rebranded as “corn sugar,” or not, makes for great theater. The war of words and litigation are analogous to small market baseball team fans making the choice between rooting for the Yankees or Red Sox: neither is appealing.

Now we have a fight in the courts over what can be called sugar or not. Watch for the sweetener wars to become even more exciting as various industry groups defend their respective turfs.
The two trade associations and their allies are entangled in litigation that began when the CRA decided that it would rebrand HCFS as “corn sugar” to circumvent HCFS’ bad reputation. The tussle began earlier this year when the CRA lobbied the Food and Drug Association (FDA) to permit the name change. Because of consumer concern, the CRA would prefer the label “corn sugar.” The corn lobby has a poor record of transparency on the manufacture of HFCS and people are concerned about what’s in it. Since “corn sugar” sounds like a different product than HFCS, the Western Sugar Cooperative was one plaintiff that took the CRA to court over allegations of false advertising and deception.

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Judge: Lawsuit over ‘corn sugar’ can go forward

A federal judge has ruled that a lawsuit seeking to stop the corn industry’s use of the term “corn sugar’’ for high fructose corn syrup can go forward, a decision that the sugar industry lawyers who brought the suit said Saturday was “very encouraging.’’

U.S. District Judge Consuelo B. Marshall issued the ruling Friday in Los Angeles, allowing the false advertising suit brought by plaintiffs that include the Western Sugar Cooperative against the Corn Refiners Association to go forward.

“It is something we expected, we’re not in the business of filing meritless or frivolous lawsuits,’’ sugar industry attorney Adam Fox told The Associated Press.

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Halloween Candy Deconstructed

It's Halloween time — already. The costumes, the candy, the candy, the candy, and lots of it. It's the one time of year that even hard-core healthy eaters become pushers of the sugary stuff.

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

New corn syrup labeling is misleading

Corporations and industry groups are at it again, trying to deceive the American public into buying products that are either unsafe or unhealthy. This is their corporate duty under the assumption that they must, as economic agents, follow ruthless self-interest to protect their corporation or industry as a whole.

This time, the Corn Refiners Association is trying to change the name of “high-fructose corn syrup,” a name with many negative connotations, to “corn sugar,” a name that sounds much more consumer friendly.

The name change is disingenuous. It is meant to deceive consumers into buying more products with high-fructose corn syrup, without those consumers knowing that they are in fact putting high-fructose syrup into their bodies.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Corn Mafia Is At It Again

Do you feel like shit? I know I do. I could blame the horrible traffic situation in DC but that's an easy out. I could blame drinking too much Flying Dog. I could blame choosing writing as a career (protip: the shit doesn't pay, yo).

But a more likely cause is our toxic environment.

They put corn in our gasoline and gasoline in our food. Does that make sense to anyone? When I lived in California, I'd have to stare at Prop 65 signs everywhere warning me that my environment was known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Not might, HAD and probably COULD. My lymph nodes throbbed. WTF.

The Corn Mafia wants to keep burning up the shit in gas tanks and in things it has no business being in (like most grocery store cat foods - but I won't make this a lecture on feeding your cats an actual meat diet free of fillers like corn), but the deception is wearing thin.

Surely you've seen the Corn Sugar ads. This big toothy chick (who I think was also in a birth control ad - another lobby in and of itself that we'll save for another day) talks about how she too suspected high fructose syrup which shall not be named was bad but then she did the research. She doesn't say what research she did but it led her to discover that sugar is sugar.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

High-Fructose Corn Syrup: The Debate

In 2010, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention released data relaying the drastic increase of obesity in the United States. More than 33 percent of Americans are now obese, and no state in the nation has less than a 20 percent obese population. At the same time, it seems as though everyone has an explanation for our ballooning waistbands. P

People like Michael Pollan, food activist and writer of In Defense of Food, points to one particular flaw in the Western diet: the massive consumption of corn products and sweeteners. The biggest corn culprit is, as you may have guessed, high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). The product is found in many foods Americans eat daily, from bread and sauces to lunch meat and sodas. In fact, it is so prevalent and in so many of the foods we consume that Americans eat an annual estimated average of 140 pounds of HFCS.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Minnesota Public Radio: The rebranding of high fructose syrup

After years of consumer campaigns against high fructose corn syrup, the Corn Refiners Association has decided to change the name of this controversial sweetener to Corn Sugar. Now the sugar industry is taking them to court. We get an update on the law suit and talk about the ethics of rebranding.


Adam Fox: Partner at Squire Sanders & Dempsey Law firm in Los Angeles. They are representing the Sugar Industry in their suit agaist the Corn Refinery Association

Akshay Rao: Professor of marketing at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.

Lawrence Lessig on How Money Corrupts Congress - and How to Stop It

When you put these two things together, you understand a little bit why we have an explosion of high-fructose corn syrup substituting for regular sugar in our diets.

"There is a feeling today among too many Americans that we might not make it," Lawrence Lessig writes in the introduction to his new book Republic, Lost. "Not that the end is near or that doom is around the corner, but that a distinctly American feeling of inevitability, of greatness – culturally, economically, politically -- is gone." He goes on to note that Americans' trust in government is at an all-time low, related to the (largely accurate) belief that moneyed special interests wield outsize influence over our political system. In his book, Lessig, a Harvard Law School professor and big noise in the field of law and technology, details how money came to corrupt our government, how our broken system hurts both the Left and the Right, and what it will take to return American democracy to its rightful owners – the people. We caught up with him by phone the other day; here, highlights from our conversation.

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