To say that the sugar industry and the corn industry have beef with each other would be putting it mildly, to say the least. The two factions have been locked in legal battle since 2010, when the Corn Refiners Association petitioned the FDA to authorize “corn sugar” as an alternate term for HFCS – a move flanked by a massive multimedia campaign to convince consumers that the corn-based sweetener is totally the same as any other kind of sugar and that the human body can’t tell the difference. The sugar industry responded with a false advertising lawsuit, and in May the FDA officially denied the CRA’s name change request. End of story? Hardly. Beginning the next phase of the battle, a coalition of corn processors including Cargill, Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), Ingredion, and Tate & Lyle Ingredient Americas has filed a counterclaim against the Sugar Association.
According to reports, the counterclaim now being filed against the original and ongoing Western Sugar Cooperative v Archer-Daniels-Midland, Co. alleges that the corn processors’ case has been harmed due to the Sugar Association publishing statements on its website that high fructose corn syrup is “meaningfully different” than cane sugar. Which, well… there have been studies, but the Corn Refiners Association has refuted them.
The Sugar Association’s legal counsel has spoken out about the new counterclaim and its intentions in a new press release:
“The defendants are pulling out every stop, first trying to avoid answering the lawsuit and now apparently trying to muddy the issues with their counterclaim,” said Adam Fox of Squire Sanders, co-lead counsel for the Sugar Association and other plaintiffs in the case. “I am confident that this most recent tactical ploy by ADM, Cargill and the others won’t fool anyone. The evidence plainly shows that sugar and HFCS are not the same. They are molecularly different. They are functionally different. The body can tell the difference.”
If the Sugar Association can sue the Corn Refiners Association because it doesn’t agree with the CRA’s high fructose corn syrup claims, it’s also within the CRA’s rights to countersue the Sugar Association because it doesn’t agree with their high fructose corn syrup claims. Now, yet again, it’s up to the courts to sift through the statements and the studies and the evidence, and decide which of those claims are propaganda and which are actually fact.