You may have seen the weird little TV ad where a sugar cube is being interrogated about why Americans are so obese. The sugar cube fingers high fructose corn syrup.
But the interrogator doesn't buy it. He scolds the sugar cube, telling him that calories are the same, whether they come from sugar or corn syrup. This message, of course, is brought to you by friends of the corn industry.
This ad and others have been launched to fight a proposal now circulating in Congress to raise taxes on soft drinks. Proponents say a tax on high-calorie soft drinks would bring in needed revenues and discourage consumption, thus reducing one of the prime contributors to obesity.
Opponents say the tax would be just another burden on hard-pressed Americans during tough economic times. And, they say, soft drinks are no more a contributor to obesity than a variety of other foods.
The issue of whether high fructose corn syrup, the sweetener of choice in soft drinks and myriad other foods, is worse for us than sugar and other "empty" calories is in dispute. But there is a larger and more important question: Why is the U.S. government still subsidizing corn production?
The primary reason the soft drink industry and food producers use so much corn syrup as a sweetener is because it's cheap. Why is it cheap? Because the federal government has placed quotas and tariffs on cane and beet sugar, raising the cost of sugar, while giving subsidies to corn growers, lowering the cost of high fructose corn syrup.
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