Thursday, July 23, 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup

I just came across this article about some recent work revealing potential problems with high fructose corn syrup. It seems consumption of HFCS, ubiquitous as a sweetener in packaged foods, has been linked with things like obesity, diabetes, and such. But in addition to this, apparently the process used to produce the stuff results in mercury contamination, as well. All in all, not a good thing.

How long, I wonder, until someone starts a campaign saying the Government should do something about HFCS? Maybe a ban, or a tax, or some other measure designed to reduce the amount of the stuff that gets used. Before such a thing is even considered, hopefully people will remember that the relative prices of high fructose corn syrup, and plain old sugar, is not a natural relationship. Sugar is rendered artifically expensive by import quotas (limiting how much sugar can be imported and therefore providing higher prices for domestic producers), while corn syrup is rendered less expensive through corn subsidies. Actually... I've noticed a recent trend toward greater use of regular sugar as a sweetener (always well advertised, such as Pepsi Throwback), which I suspect may have something to do with rising corn prices associated with corn ethanol fuel requirements.

Thus, solving America's "obesity epidemic" may well be as simple as eliminating a few subsidies and import quotas. Certainly reduction of government should be the first solution tried, if only to reduce the chance of multiple conflicting programs wasting resources and accomplishing nothing.

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