Sugar Farmers Ask Federal Court to Reject Attempt to Silence Public Debate
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 30, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Sugar Association, which
represents the nation's sugar cane and sugar beet farmers, has asked a federal
court to dismiss a claim to stifle freedom of speech advanced by several
conglomerates that manufacture the sweetener high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
Attorneys for the nonprofit trade group, who filed their motion in U.S.
District Court in Los Angeles yesterday, said the corn processors' claim
represents part of a "campaign to silence all negative commentary about HFCS
from the public debate." The makers of HFCS who brought the claim on September
7 are Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM), Cargill, Ingredion, and Tate & Lyle
The filed motion to dismiss is available at
The 25-page motion contrasts The Sugar Association's own speech—largely
editorial statements and news releases posted on the organization's
website—with the "lavish advertising campaign" funded by the corn processors
and at the center of a lawsuit filed in April 2011, Western Sugar Cooperative
v. Archer-Daniels-Midland, Co.That lawsuit was filed by a group of sugar
farmers and other producers to stopa multimillion dollar marketing campaign
by the corn processors.
The advertising originally challenged by sugar farmers was aimed at convincing
the public that HFCS is "natural" despite the fact that it is produced with
advanced technology that transforms corn starch at the molecular level; HFCS
is really just a "corn sugar" even though the FDA has long reserved that term
for an entirely different sweetener with no fructose in it; and that "your
body can't tell the difference" between HFCS and sugar, although numerous
scientists have published research supporting the opposite conclusion.
"The Sugar Association has been targeted by ADM, Cargill and the other corn
processors for exercising a cherished right—free speech, which is at the core
of the First Amendment," said co-lead attorney Adam Fox of the firm Squire
Sanders. "As our motion notes, The Sugar Association did not commission any
paid advertising. It hired no actors, directors or cameramen. It purchased no
television commercials or spreads in newspapers or magazines. It made no
presentations at trade shows, in webinars or in the boardrooms of any of its
members' customers. It did not even write or call them."
Fox added, "It is outrageous that these companies are seeking to stifle a
legitimate public discussion about HFCS, particularly because they previously
said that stopping their own multimillion dollar commercial advertising would
be a form of censorship. This is hypocrisy at its worst."
Federal Judge Consuelo Marshall, who is presiding over the lawsuit, previously
ruled that the sugar farmers had presented evidence demonstrating "a
reasonable probability of success on their argument that the (corn
processors') statements are false." In July, the federal court also rejected
an effort by the giant corn processors to have the case against them
In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rejected a petition by the
Corn Refiners Association (CRA)—the trade association of ADM, Cargill,
Ingredion and Tate & Lyle Ingredient Americas—to change the common or usual
name for HFCS to "corn sugar."The FDA explained that "the use of the term
'sugar' to describe HFCS, a product that is a syrup, would not accurately
identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing
properties." The FDA also stated that the name change could "pose a public
health concern" to persons with fructose intolerance or malabsorption.
CONTACT: Eric Rose (805) 624-0572 firstname.lastname@example.org or
Gene Grabowski (202) 270-6560 email@example.com
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