Annals of Health Law
HOW TO REGULATE TOXIC FOODS
“[s]ugar has been an important ingredient in people’s diets for centuries and
the subject of countless studies. When the full body of science is evaluated
during a major review of scientific literature, experts continue to conclude
that sugars intake is not a causative factor in any disease, including
obesity.” 96 The sugar industry, unlike some other food industries, has made
no effort to conduct studies to evaluate the health risks associated with
sugar consumption. 97 In 2003, the World Health Organization was poised
to suggest that sugar should constitute no more than ten percent of a daily
diet. 98 The Sugar Association lobbied so extensively against the
recommendation that it was dropped and replaced with a much weaker and
more vague recommendation that we eat sugar in moderation. 99 Without
regard to health consequences, corporate lobbying focuses on maintaining
or increasing quarterly profits for industry members by attempting to
advance policies that maximize sales, 100 including food subsidies that
adversely impact the food supply. 101
Food subsidies have substantially contributed to the widespread addition
of sugar to our food supply. Since 1933, Congress has passed a farm bill
96. What Does the Science Say? THE SUGAR ASS’N, http://www.sugar.org/sugar-and-your-diet/ what-does-the-science-say.html (last visited Jan. 8, 2013).
97. YUDKIN, supra note 8, at 14 (“Other industries which produce foods like meat or
dairy products or fruits have spent a great deal of money over the years to carry out or
support nutritional studies on their products, even though these foods form a smaller
proportion of the western diet than sugar now does. But the sugar people seem quite content
to spend their money on advertising and public relations, making claims about quick energy
and simply rejecting suggestions that sugar is really harmful to the heart or the teeth or the
figure or to health in general.”).
98. Fernando Vio & Ricardo Uauy, The Sugar Controversy, FOOD POLICY FOR
DEVELOPING COUNTRIES (2007), available at http://cip.cornell.edu/
99. WHO Attacks US Sugar Lobby, BBC NEWS, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/
2966187.stm (last updated Apr. 22, 2003, 12: 26 GMT). See also Sarah Boseley, Sugar
Industry Threatens to Scupper WHO, THE GUARDIAN, http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/
2003/apr/21/ usnews.food?INTCMP=SRCH (last updated Apr. 22, 2003). Cf. Editorial, Big
Sugar, THE WASHINGTON POST, Apr. 16, 2005, at A18, available at
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A57782-2005Apr15.html (noting the huge
influence of the sugar lobby and United States policy that bows to that influence in the form
of import quotas that keep United States sugar prices higher than it is for most of the world.
The author notes that the victims of United States policy include “ordinary supermarket
visitors [who] are made to subsidize welfare for corporations. At the same time, efficient
foreign sugar producers, many of them in poor countries, are denied a fair chance to export
their way out of poverty.”).
100. Arguably, re-writing corporate law should be a high priority. Rather than focus on
quarterly profit for investors, corporations should have a legal incentive to balance profit
with good corporate citizenship. LYNN STOUT, THE SHAREHOLDER VALUE MYTH: HOW
PUTTING SHAREHOLDERS FIRST HARMS INVESTORS, CORPORATIONS AND THE PUBLIC (2012).
101. Julie Foster, Subsidizing Fat: How the 2012 Farm Bill Can Address America’s
Obesity Epidemic, 160 U. PA. L. REV. 235, 240-41 (2011).