Corn Processors Pay Advocates, Claiming They Are Science Experts, According to
New Legal Filing From The Sugar Association
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- U.S. corn processors, led by
agribusiness giants Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) and Cargill, have paid
advocates to support their controversial claims about high-fructose corn syrup
(HFCS) while presenting them as scientific experts, lawyers for sugar farmers
have told a federal court adjudicating a lawsuit the farmers have brought
against the processors.
In a formal answer to the corn processors' counterclaim filed October 15 with
the U.S. District Court, Central District of California in Los Angeles, sugar
industry lawyers said that the corn processors have paid Drs. James M. Rippe
and John S. White to advocate on their behalf. The corn processors have
claimed the amounts paid are entitled to confidentiality.
The redacted court filing is available at
Both men have been outspoken in their support of the corn processors'
marketing claim—disputed in a growing body of peer-reviewed literature—that
"your body can't tell the difference" between table sugar and the various
formulations of HFCS. The men's opinions were cited in the corn processors'
counterclaim, filed late last year.
"The corn processors' counterclaim is larded up with alleged facts and wild
distortions in order to confuse the central issue, which is that the varied
formulations of HFCS are not the same as natural sugar," said Adam Fox, an
attorney with the law firm Squire Sanders, co-lead counsel for the sugar
farmers. "They aren't fooling anyone."
The underlying lawsuit, Western Sugar Cooperative v. Archer-Daniels-Midland,
Co., was filed in April 2011 by a group of sugar farmers to stopa
multi-million dollar marketing campaign attempting to equate the two
ingredients. The sugar farmers claim that the HFCS advertising is false and
misleading because it: (1) describes HFCS as "natural" although advanced
technology is used to transform corn starch at the molecular level; (2) calls
HFCS "corn sugar" although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had
reserved that term for an entirely different sweetener; and (3) claims that
"your body can't tell the difference" between HFCS and sugar, although
numerous scientific publications have reached the opposite conclusion.
In May 2012, the 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 name for HFCS to "corn sugar."The
FDA noted 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 said the name change
could "pose a public health concern" to persons with fructose intolerance or
U.S. District Court Judge Consuelo Marshall, who is presiding over the
lawsuit, has also ruled on an earlier motion that the plaintiff sugar farmers
have presented evidence demonstrating "a reasonable probability of success on
their argument that the statements (made by the corn processors) are false."
Judge Marshall also rejected an effort by the corn processing giants to have
the case against them dismissed. The suit asks to put an end to the challenged
advertising and for payment of damages suffered by the sugar industry as a
result of the corn processors' ongoing efforts to promote HFCS at the expense
of natural sugar.
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