So the American sugar cartel is at it again, trying to get the government to prop up their industry, which should long since have either disappeared or shrunk into niche status. For those of you who don’t know, Americans pay three times the world market price for sugar because the government restricts sugar imports – true corporate welfare. NAFTA was supposed to put an end to this bullshit, but the sugar lobby is now trying to get Congress to do an end-run around the free trade agreement by forcing the government to buy Mexican sugar imports to keep them off of U.S. shelves.
That pisses me off to begin with, but here’s the thing that should bother everyone: This asinine, smoothawleyrific policy is exacerbating the rising rates of heart disease in the United States. Mass-market food manufacturers, notably the soft drink companies, use high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener – even though anyone with a functioning tongue can tell you it doesn’t taste as good as sugar does – because it’s significantly cheaper than real sugar. This makes the corn lobby happy, but the problem for consumers is that fructose has a major downside: It reduces the levels of two enzymes critical to heart health,, leading to enlarged hearts and increasing the likelihood of heart disease. A diet high in fruits isn’t likely to cause this problem, but a diet high in high-fructose corn syrup – you know, corn syrup that is HIGH IN FRUCTOSE – is. What’s the better course of action: Using government money to keep Mexican sugar off the market, gouging American consumers while raising heart disease rates; or letting the market dictate prices and getting sugar back into soft drinks?