High fructose corn syrup, an inexpensive sweetener made from highly processed corn that has become an almost ubiquitous ingredient in packaged processed foods, has been getting some bad press of late.
Some scientists and food experts, including the well-regarded sustainable food advocate Marion Nestle, have argued that high fructose corn syrup is really no worse, nutritionally speaking, than traditional refined table sugar, which is certainly no health food. But mounting evidence suggests that subtle chemical differences between the two sweetners might cause HFCS to affect the body differently than regular sugar, in potentially harmful ways.
A 2007 Rutgers University study linked HFCS in soda to diabetes. There was the revelation in 2008 that some brands of HFCS contained traces of mercury. Then a Princeton study, published just this March, connected high fructose corn syrup consumption to obesity in rats.
As a result of all the bad publicity associated with these scientific findings, more than 50% of Americans now believe high fructose corn syrup may pose a health hazard. Sales of high fructose corn syrup have plummeted as manufacturers scramble to replace HFCS with familiar, old-fashioned table sugar.
So last month, the Corn Refiners Association, a trade organization that lobbies the U.S. government on behalf of corn processors, launched a campaign to change the name of high fructose corn syrup to corn sugar.
The CRA issued a press release. They launched a corn sugar website. They contacted major media organizations. They sent a petition to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, lobbying the government to allow HFCS to be listed on food labels as corn sugar.