High Fructose Corn Syrup Lobby Reinvents Greenwashing

The video below is the funniest propaganda I’ve seen since the infamous “CO2, We call it life” shenegins a couple years ago. It’s almost as good as something you might see on The Onion.

In case you’re wondering what’s wrong with this picture, read on.

First of all, the ad is correct in saying that HFCS is not actually all that different from cane sugar. But it’s not at all clear that those minor differences haven’t affected human health. Many scientists note that the fact that HFCS contains separate molecules of fructose and glucose whereas in sucrose (the most common form of less refined table sugar) the molecules are bound together. Whether or not this means anything, there is an obvious correlation between the introduction of HFCS and the rise in rates of obesity and diabetes in the US.
Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but sugary junk food, whether made with cane sugar or HFCS is certainly bad for you. Diabetes and obesity obviously bring with them significant societal externalities in the form of health care costs (often borne by employers), reduced happiness in life, productivity, and many other things.
The questions this raises are as follows:
1) What’s an industry to do when it’s obviously making society sick? I’m talking about all junk/fast food companies, not just the corn lobby.
2) Can it evolve in a positive direction or does it require the government to step in and force regulation?
3) Why spend buckets of money on bizarre propaganda which basically tells people that thinking is wrong?
Incidentally, HFCS is popular because it’s cheap. The reason it’s cheap is largely because of import restrictions on sugar from Brazil, Cuba and elsewhere. Naturally the corn lobby would oppose removing those restrictions, but if it’s indeed proven that HFCS is worse than regular sugar then I’d say it’s high time the government reevaluated our sugar tariffs.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of TriplePundit.com

TriplePundit.com has since grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for TreeHugger.com, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.