Sugar Industry Denies Misleading Public Despite Media Reports Exposing “Pay-for-Play” Campaign Against Corn Refiners
Lobbying Group Incredibly Evokes “Free Speech” After Suing to Censor Consumer Education
WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In court documents filed yesterday, attorneys for the U.S. sugar industry tried to deny that The Sugar Association is deceiving consumers into believing that processed table sugar is safer and more healthful than high fructose corn syrup, even as several recent media stories revealed they are funding secretive campaigns to attack HFCS and other sweeteners.
In the newest issue of Mother Jones, the cover story “Sweet Little Lies” chronicles the sugar industry’s decades-long use of paid-for allies to mislead the news media, public and regulators through front groups and questionable science. Just weeks ago, a Bloomberg investigative reporter revealed that The Sugar Association has recently paid $300,000 to the phony consumer group, Citizens for Health, to launch petitions and other sponsored activities to stir-up baseless consumer concerns about high fructose corn syrup.
“What these recent news reports confirm is The Sugar Association and its members have spent huge amounts of money to buy the support of consumer front groups to attack high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners,” said Audrae Erickson, president of the Corn Refiners Association. “Their litigation against our education campaign is nothing more than another ploy to sell more processed sugar by attempting to censor our speech and it will not prevail.”
Although The Sugar Association’s original lawsuit against The Corn Refiners Association explicitly is an attempt to block further consumer education about high fructose corn syrup, in a sudden reversal, the sugar lobby now is evoking the “cherished right” of free speech in defense of their actions.
“It is remarkable that The Sugar Association has suddenly stumbled upon the principle of free speech, given how hard they have tried to censor our consumer education program,” Erickson said. “Perhaps their new found belief in freedom of speech will motivate them to drop their self-serving lawsuit to silence our efforts to educate the public about high fructose corn syrup.”
The motion is in response to a countersuit brought by member companies of the Corn Refiners Association in early September. The counterclaim presented evidence showing that “The Sugar Association has worked to perpetuate the myth that high fructose corn syrup uniquely contributes to obesity and other health problems, preying on consumers’ food fears and diverting attention away from the real issue – that Americans should reduce their consumption of all added sugars and calories in general.”
The countersuit is part of the corn refining industry’s response to an April 2011 lawsuit brought by The Sugar Association that is intended to prevent CRA from educating consumers on the widely accepted fact that high fructose corn syrup and table sugar are nutritionally equivalent. In previous statements, CRA has characterized The Sugar Association’s lawsuit as part of a “silencing campaign” and has said the group is “trying to censor our efforts to communicate the simplest and more meaningful fact about our product: It’s a sugar.” The counter-claim states that The Sugar Association is hoping its false statements “cause food and beverage manufacturers to replace high fructose corn syrup with processed sugar…”
Read the Mother Jones article “Sweet Little Lies” (note free registration is required to access article): http://www.motherjones.com/toc/2012/11
Read the Bloomberg article “Stealth Lobbying Used to Tout Sugar Over Rival Corn Syrup”: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-18/stealth-lobbying-used-to-tout-sugar-over-rival-corn-syrup.html
Read more about the case on SweetSurprise.com: http://sweetsurprise.com/western-sugar-litigation
SOURCE Corn Refiners Association