Ethanol upside

OK, I’ve finally found the bright side to corn-based ethanol: The rising price of corn might drive a stake into the heart of a major cause of obesity in the United States.

Dow Jones reports, “Rapid increases in high-fructose corn syrup prices will encourage a return to sugar usage in U.S. soft drinks and foods — a move that’s already gathering steam among consumers — sugar industry members predict.”  Granted, you’d expect that line from the sugar industry, but the fact remains the cost of HFCS is coming into line with that of good old-fashioned sugar.

HFCS has become a staple of the American diet over the last 25 years.  After sugar prices peaked in the early 80s, soft-drink makers switched to HFCS, and now the goop is used in everything from ketchup to salad dressing to fruit yogurt.

The problem is the way the human body handles HFCS, according to many nutritionists.  As the San Francisco Chronicle explained the theory a few years ago, “The body processes the fructose in high fructose corn syrup
differently than it does old-fashioned cane or beet sugar, which in turn
alters the way metabolic-regulating hormones function. It also forces the
liver to kick more fat out into the bloodstream.  The end result is that our bodies are essentially tricked into wanting to
eat more and at the same time, we are storing more fat.”

For this, we can lay blame at the feet of the sugar industry, whose lobby has forever convinced Washington to limit sugar imports — which as I noted on Monday, forces Americans to pay twice as much for sugar as the rest of the world.  HFCS might have never come into the picture had it not been for government interference.

I have an idea: What if we end the subsidies for corn ethanol to help bring down the corn price, and end the import limits on sugar to help bring down the sugar price?

Hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?