Ill-conceived US corn subsidies make "liquid Satan" high-fructose corn syrup a cheap ingredient

Saturday, November 28, 2009 by: E. Huff, staff writer
Tags: corn subsidies, HFCS, health news

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(NaturalNews) United States crop subsidies have long directed the course of food consumption patterns among Americans. When a crop like corn is subsidized by the government, food producers hone in on it for use in their products because it is cheap. In the case of corn, the crop is subsidized so heavily that it sells below the cost of production, leading to its excessive use as a sweetener in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

For years the federal government has subsidized corn to the tune of several billion dollars a year. Much of America's heartland is covered by endless swaths of corn, often genetically modified because of the huge cash incentives offered to farmers who grow it. As a result, corn-based ingredients are present in a great majority of processed food products. Ingredients like maltodextrin, corn starch (typically modified in some way), corn syrup, and HFCS can be found in virtually every processed food.

HFCS was invented in the 1970s when scientists discovered a way to convert corn glucose into fructose, causing it to be substantially sweeter. Interestingly around the same time, the U.S. government began imposing tariffs on imported sugar and implementing sugar quotas on the amount of domestic sugar that could be grown. As a result, producers were able to obtain this new corn sweetener much more cheaply than they could sugar and they began to use it to sweeten their products.

Fructose is not naturally present in corn syrup; the enzymatic process by which HFCS is derived puts it there artificially. Mounting evidence suggests that the replacement of sugar by HFCS in the American diet is one reason why obesity is such a problem today.

Intake of HFCS has increased from .6 pounds per person per year in the 1970s to 73.5 pounds per person in 2007. This represents an alarming 12,250% increase in consumption over just a few decades.

Government intervention in the free market through crop subsidies has led to a disastrous change in what Americans eat. Though many other policies would have to be changed with it, the dismantling of crop subsidies would be a healthy start to breaking up corporate agriculture conglomerates, and it would encourage diversity in American farming. Better food would lead to better health.

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