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High Fructose Corn Syrup: Are We In More Danger Than We Were With Sugar

1886 words - 8 pages

Sugarcane was domesticated some 10000 years ago on the island of New Guinea. It reached the mainland around 1000 BC. In the 17th century, sugar became an item of less luxury and hence consumption spread to the middle class as well as to the poor. The average sugar intake by an individual has however steadily been on the rise since the 17th century. Early consumption of sugar was on average 4 pounds a year. In the 18th century the average intake went up to 18 pounds a year and reached its highest levels in the 19th century to 100 pounds. At the present, we are consuming around 77 pounds a year. The drop in sugar consumptions is mainly credited to the introduction of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) (Cohen 1,3). Since the 1970, when HFCS was first introduced, the intake of it has been on a steady rise (U.S. 2). Its use has been widely spread in the U.S. due to it being cheaper than sugar. The government limits the production of domestic sugar and places import tariffs on foreign sugar making it a very expensive commodity in the U.S. However, at the same time, it subsidizes corn production and therefore lowers its price significantly (“How” 2). Only in the most recent years, has the consumption of HFCS been dropped, mostly due to the higher awareness by the public (U.S. 2). Due to its inexpensiveness, this ingredient has replaced a big part of the sugar usage and is included in most every day foods like: “bread, cereal, ketchup, sodas, pasta, and many others. HFCS, a sugar substitute, however is more dangerous to our health than sugar, otherwise known as the white evil, ever was.
The lobbyists of the corn industry have introduced HFCS as a healthier version of sugar with fewer calories, but this is simply not true. To understand their reason for doing so, one has simply to look at their loses if HFCS was to be disallowed. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): “It is estimated that, in the 2000s, about 511 million bushels of corn, or about 4.7 percent of the total U.S. corn crop, has been used to produce HFCS” (U.S. 4). It is, therefore, easy to disbelieve their promoting of HFCS to be genuine. Furthermore, most recently they have been trying to improve the image of HFCS, due to the public's increase in health concerns of the product, by asking to be allowed to change the name of HFCS. A petition has been submitted to the United States Food and Drug Administration to change the name of HFCS to be simply called “corn syrup” (Parker, “no” 1). I believe this new name would present HFCS as a natural product, which it simply is not. Parker mentions in her article in the New York Times: “The request came on the hells of a national advertising campaign promoting the syrup as a natural ingredient made from corm” (Parker, “No” 1).
In reality, HFCS is considerably different from regular sugar in its composition. In order to produce HFCS, a series of chemical procedures have to be done. Cornstarch, which is the underlying...

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