Really that sweet? Corn is among the most planted and produced crops in the US. According to 201 3 statistics, the US is the largest corn producer in the world with 80 million acres of corn fields and almost $64 billion annual sales. Besides its consumption as raw food, industrial processing of corn yields high economic value. Among industrial uses of corn, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HUFFS) is the most controversial one from an ethics perspective. HUFFS is an artificial sweetener that is found in a wide range of processed foods.
It is produced by applying enzymatic processes to convert corn’s glucose into fructose. HESS is used as a sweetener in various foods and beverages such as yogurts, breakfast bars, cereals, breads, Soups, lunch meats, and soft drinks. Since sass, it has become the most economical alternative to cane sugar and replaced most of its use as an industrial sweetener. Due to quotas on domestic increased tariffs on sugar imports, the US has the highest price for sugar around the world while government subsidies to corn production make HUFFS a much cheaper alternative to sugar.
Moreover, HUFFS is easy to transport, sweeter than table sugar, and extends the shelf life of products. As a result, HUFFS has become a major substitute for cane sugar for the U. S industry such that soft drink giants like Coke and Pepsi use HUFFS in their products instead of sugar since 1984. Despite its economic value, HUFFS is shown to be related to obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. This paper examines the ethical issues of HUFFS use in foods and beverages. Although HUFFS was classified generally recognized as safe (GRASS) by the U. S.
Food and Drug Administration in 1 976, a Princeton University research team demonstrated that sweeteners have different effects on human and animals such that HUFFS leads to higher weight gains compared to sugar with same calories. Also, a 2009 study from the University of California, Davis shows how a high-fructose diet can cause you to build new fat cells around your heart, liver, and digestive organs in just 10 weeks, plunging you into the early stages of diabetes and heart disease (whereas a high glucose diet did not have the same effects) In addition, HUFFS is found to reduce deity and increase food consumption.
Regular sugar triggers mechanisms in the body that tell the brain the stomach is full and no longer hungry. However, fructose does not lead to such natural processes and adds to overeating. Products made with HUFFS are cheaper and available in higher quantities which attract consumption while bringing health risks. Another problem identified with HUFFS is increasing insulin resistance of children which leads to diabetic diseases in adolescence. HUFFS is not the only reason for millions of obese children in the CSS but doctors say it plays a major role.
A duty conducted in 2004 revealed that the average American over the age of 2 years consumes 1 32 calories worth of HUFFS per day. The American Academy of Pediatrics announced that schools should not offer soft drinks due to their high HUFFS content. Similarly, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggested that the altered metabolism of fructose increases obesity rates because fructose is more readily converted to fat compared to glucose. A 2009 study from the University of California, Davis also shows that when you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 0 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat Recent tests found significant levels of inorganic mercury in 45% of HUFFS samples which gets mixed into HUFFS during the processing of corn syrup. Mercury is a heavy metal with the potential to damage many human organs and pollute the environment. Current FDA regulations do not measure mercury levels in products containing HP-CSS and daily consumption of these products in high quantities multiplies the potential risks.
HUFFS is also used as a sucrose replacement for honey bees, but it becomes toxic for honey bees when the imperative is over 1 13 OF. Another environmental issue related to genetically modified corn is that it maximizes yields but depletes soil nutrients and requires more pesticides and fertilizer. Corn has a high environmental footprint and a recent example is the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico formed by pesticides runoffs from the Mississippi corn fields. HUFFS is also found to reduce honey bees’ ability to cope with pesticides and pathogens.
Although research at many universities emphasizes the problems of HUFFS use in foods and beverages, research funded by Corn Refiners Association disputes these lams and argues that HUFFS is comparable to table sugar. This leads discussions on research ethics. Honesty, integrity, objectivity, and transparency are among the ethical norms of research. Research papers and reports should also disclose information about the funding of the research. Corn Refiners Association funds studies that support their claims.
Researchers that publish articles about the dangers of HUFFS are contacted by industry representatives and reminded about disputing studies and legal implications of defamation. Another ethical issue related to HUFFS is the babbling of products that contain HRS. As consumers become more aware of health issues related to HUFFS, some companies used labels and advertisement that claim that their products containing HUFFS are “natural”. HUFFS is undisputed not natural since is cornstarch goes through several industrial and chemical processes to turn into HUFFS.
The Corn Refiners Association also applied to rename HUFFS as “corn sugar’ which was rejected by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration in 2012. Corn Refiners Association also established websites such as sweetbriers. Mom to promote HUFFS as a safe ingredient and pays search engines such as Google to list these websites on top when someone conducts a search on the web regarding HUFFS related health concerns. A further ethical issue related to HUFFS is related to governments’ rules and regulations. Business ethics require that companies should be autonomous in their commercial activities and governments should not interfere.
However, when public health or interest is harmed, governments have the legal right to intervene. Some consumer groups and health organizations have been gushing for regulations and limits for HUFFS use in foods and beverages; however, there is a strong influence of corn lobby on the IIS government and Congress. As mentioned before, FDA, fails to adequately acknowledge this danger. Presently, the FDA labels HUFFS as “GRASS”, or “generally recognized as safe”, meaning that “although a food ingredient hasn’t been completely studied or tested for safety, the FDA considers it to be safe.
Moreover, the corn lobby has a remarkable power on some authorities thanks to its strong lobbying activities. The lobby spends an average of $500 million annually to pep its interests. Also, since 1 994, the federal government had been supported corn producers to the tune of 56 billion per year. America’s corn farmers have been benefiting from this annual federal subsidies all in the name of ethanol used as an additive for the nation’s vehicles.
This federal tax credit for ethanol expired on January the first in 201 2 but ethanol proponents eventually accepted expiration of the tax credit without putting up a big fight. Because they claimed that the marketplace has evolved and the tax incentive is less necessary now than it was just two years ago. Although corn is promoted as a dependable, renewable, and abundant agricultural raw material, processing it into HUFFS creates health risks for human beings and animals, and pollution and sustainability problems for the environment.
Companies with corporate social responsibility should seek alternatives to HUFFS in their food and beverage production. An example to this approach is Arnold Bread which does not use HUFFS in any of its products and labels its products as free of HUFFS. Although using natural alternatives to HUFFS may result in higher productions costs for Arnold Bread, it also increases profitability by adding value to its products and creating consumer awareness and reputation. Other examples include Kraft Foods’ marketing Wheat Thins and other products as no longer containing HUFFS.