Last month, the judge in the sugar industry’s lawsuit over ads that try to rebrand high fructose corn syrup as Corn Sugar allowed the suit to move forward but removed the individual corn companies as defendants. Now, Big Sugar has fired the latest legal missle, amending its complaint to accuse those corn companies of conspiracy to deceive the public.
The amended complain filed late last week alleges that senior executives of several agri-biz biggies, including ADM and Cargill, “organize[d] collectively in order to dominate and … control” the ongoing marketing campaign to rename HFCS as “corn sugar.” Big Sugar also charges that these companies, under the guise of the Corn Refiners Association, provided “the funding that has been required to orchestrate and maintain this significant, broad-based, national media, multi-million dollar advertising campaign.”
In a statement to Consumerist, the lead attorney for the sugar folks writes:
Let’s be clear about what is at stake here. This litigation is about false advertising funded by CRA’s biggest members… Sugar cane and beet farmers want the defendants to stop their false and misleading statements that harm consumers, harm the makers of real sugar and harm any dialogue based on the truth. This lawsuit seeks to put an end to the intentional deception.
However, in a written statement, the folks at the Corn Refiners Association tell Consumerist that the plaintiff is bootstrapping:
The simple truth is that the sugar industry is attempting to use the courts to stifle free speech but it lacks the facts to support its claims against our member companies. The court made that fact clear in its last ruling, and we continue to believe these claims against the companies should be dismissed… The more important issue, as the court has recognized, is that of health effects, and we believe the sugar industry is wrongfully alleging that high fructose corn syrup (a sugar made from corn) causes health issues that do not arise from consuming cane and beet sugar.
In September it was revealed that some people at the FDA are not thrilled by the Corn Sugar ad campaign, as the name change has not officially been approved by the agency, which already lists “corn sugar” as another name for dextrose. The FDA reportedly asked the CRA to re-think its campaign but it can not regulate the advertising as the commercials and websites are for a generic ingredient and not a specific product.