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The Double Danger of High Fructose Corn Syrup PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Sanda   
Thursday, 19 February 2004 21:23

For many years, Dr. Meira Fields and her coworkers at the US Department of Agriculture investigated the harmful effects of dietary sugar on rats. They discovered that when male rats are fed a diet deficient in copper, with sucrose as the carbohydrate, they develop severe pathologies of vital organs. Liver, heart and testes exhibit extreme swelling, while the pancreas atrophies, invariably leading to death of the rats before maturity.

Sucrose is a disaccharide composed of 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose. Dr. Fields repeated her experiments to determine whether it was the glucose or fructose moiety that caused the harmful effects. Starch breaks down into glucose when digested. On a copper-deficient diet, the male rats showed some signs of copper deficiency, but not the gross abnormalities of vital organs that occur in rats on the sucrose diet. When the rats were fed fructose, the fatal organ abnormalities occured.

Lysl oxidase is a copper-dependent enzyme that participates in the formation of collagen and elastin. Fructose seems to interfere with copper metabolism to such an extent that collagen and elastin cannot form in growing animals--hence the hypertrophy of the heart and liver in young males. The females did not develop these abnormalities, but they resorbed their litters.1

These experiements should give us pause when we consider the great increase in the use of high fructose corn syrup during the past 30 years, particularly in soft drinks, fruit juices and other beverages aimed at growing children, children increasingly likely to be copper deficient as modern parents no longer serve liver to their families. (Liver is by far the best source of copper in human diets.)

"The bodies of the children I see today are mush," observed a concerned chiropractor recently. The culprit is the modern diet, high in fructose and low in copper-containing foods, resulting in inadequate formation of elastin and collagen--the sinews that hold the body together.


Until the 1970s most of the sugar we ate came from sucrose derived from sugar beets or sugar cane.  Then sugar from corn--corn syrup, fructose, dextrose, dextrine and especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS)--began to gain popularity as a sweetener because it was much less expensive to produce. High fructose corn syrup can be manipulated to contain equal amounts of fructose and glucose, or up to 80 percent fructose and 20 percent glucose.2 Thus, with almost twice the fructose, HFCS delivers a double danger compared to sugar.

(With regards to fruit, the ratio is usually 50 percent glucose and 50 percent fructose, but most commercial fruit juices have HFCS added. Fruit contains fiber which slows down the metabolism of fructose and other sugars, but the fructose in HFCS is absorbed very quickly.)

In 1980 the average person ate 39 pounds of fructose and 84 pounds of sucrose. In 1994 the average person ate 66 pounds of sucrose and 83 pounds of fructose, providing 19 percent of total caloric energy.3 Today approximately 25 percent of our average caloric intake comes from sugars, with the larger fraction as fructose.4

High fructose corn syrup is extremely soluble and mixes well in many foods. It is cheap to produce, sweet and easy to store. It’s used in everything from bread to pasta sauces to bacon to beer as well as in "health products" like protein bars and "natural" sodas.


In the past, fructose was considered beneficial to diabetics because it is absorbed only 40 percent as quickly as glucose and causes only a modest rise in blood sugar.5 However, research on other hormonal factors suggests that fructose actually promotes disease more readily than glucose. Glucose is metabolized in every cell in the body but all fructose must be metabolized in the liver.6 The livers of test animals fed large amounts of fructose develop fatty deposits and cirrhosis, similar to problems that develop in the livers of alcoholics.

Pure fructose contains no enzymes, vitamins or minerals and robs the body of its micronutrient treasures in order to assimilate itself for physiological use.7 While naturally occurring sugars, as well as sucrose, contain fructose bound to other sugars, high fructose corn syrup contains a good deal of "free" or unbound fructose.  Research indicates that this free fructose interferes with the heart’s use of key minerals like magnesium, copper and chromium. Among other consequences, HFCS has been implicated in elevated blood cholesterol levels and the creation of blood clots.  It has been found to inhibit the action of white blood cells so that they are unable to defend the body against harmful foreign invaders.8

Studies on the Maillard reaction indicate that fructose may contribute to diabetic complications more readily than glucose. The Maillard reaction is a browning reaction that occurs when compounds are exposed to various sugars. Fructose browns food seven times faster than glucose, resulting in a decrease in protein quality and a toxicity of protein in the body.9 This is due to the loss of amino acid residues and decreased protein digestibility. Maillard products can inhibit the uptake and metabolism of free amino acids and other nutrients such as zinc, and some advanced Maillard products have mutagenic and/or carcinogenic properties. The Maillard reactions between proteins and fructose, glucose, and other sugars may play a role in aging and in some clinical complications of diabetes.10

Fructose reduces the affinity of insulin for its receptor, which is the hallmark of type-2 diabetes. This is the first step for glucose to enter a cell and be metabolized. As a result, the body needs to pump out more insulin to handle the same amount of glucose.21


Nancy Appleton, PhD, clinical nutritionist, has compiled a list of the harmful effects of fructose in her books Lick the Sugar Habit, Healthy Bones, Heal Yourself With Natural Foods, The Curse Of Louis Pasteur and Lick the Sugar Habit Sugar Counter. She points out that consumption of fructose causes a significant increase in the concentration of uric acid; after ingestion of glucose, no significant change occurs. An increase in uric acid can be an indicator of heart disease.12 Furthermore, fructose ingestion in humans results in increases in blood lactic acid, especially in patients with preexisting acidotic conditions such as diabetes, postoperative stress or uremia. Extreme elevations cause metabolic acidosis and can result in death.13

Fructose is absorbed primarily in the jejunum before metabolism in the liver. Fructose is converted to fatty acids by the liver at a greater rate than is glucose.14 When consumed in excess of dietary glucose, the liver cannot convert all of the excess fructose in the system and it may be malabsorbed. The portion that escapes conversion may be thrown out in the urine. Diarrhea can be a consequence.19 A study of 25 patients with functional bowel disease showed that pronounced gastrointestinal distress may be provoked by malabsorption of small amounts of fructose.26

Fructose interacts with oral contraceptives and elevates insulin levels in women on "the pill."17

In studies with rats, fructose consistently produces higher kidney calcium concentrations than glucose. Fructose generally induces greater urinary concentrations of phosphorus and magnesium and lowered urinary pH compared with glucose.18

In humans, fructose feeding leads to mineral losses, especially higher fecal excretions of iron and magnesium, than did subjects fed sucrose. Iron, magnesium, calcium, and zinc balances tended to be more negative during the fructose-feeding period as compared to balances during the sucrose-feeding period.19

There is significant evidence that high sucrose diets may alter intracellular metabolism, which in turn facilitates accelerated aging through oxidative damage. Scientists found that the rats given fructose had more undesirable cross-linking changes in the collagen of their skin than in the other groups. These changes are also thought to be markers for aging. The scientists say that it is the fructose molecule in the sucrose, not the glucose, that plays the larger part.20

Because it is metabolized by the liver, fructose does not cause the pancreas to release insulin the way it normally does. Fructose converts to fat more than any other sugar. This may be one of the reasons Americans continue to get fatter. Fructose raises serum triglycerides significantly. As a left-handed sugar, fructose digestion is very low. For complete internal conversion of fructose into glucose and acetates, it must rob ATP energy stores from the liver.21

Not only does fructose have more damaging effects in the presence of copper deficiency, fructose also inhibits copper metabolism--another example of the sweeteners double-whammy effect. A deficiency in copper leads to bone fragility, anemia, defects of the connective tissue, arteries, and bone, infertility, heart arrhythmias, high cholesterol levels, heart attacks, and an inability to control blood sugar levels.22

Although these studies were not designed to test the effects of fructose on weight gain, the observation of increased body weight associated with fructose ingestion is of interest. One explanation for this observation could be that fructose ingestion did not increase the production of two hormones, insulin and leptin, that have key roles in the long-term regulation of food intake and energy expenditure.23


The magnitude of the deleterious effects of fructose varies depending on such factors as age, sex, baseline glucose, insulin, triglyceride concentrations, the presence of insulin resistance, and the amount of dietary fructose consumed.24 Some people are more sensitive to fructose. They include hypertensive, hyperinsulinemic, hypertriglyceridemic, non-insulin dependent diabetic people, people with functional bowel disease and postmenopausal women.25

Everyone should avoid over-exposure to fructose, but especially those listed above. One or two pieces of fruit per day is fine, but commercial fruit juices and any products containing high fructose corn syrup are more dangerous than sugar and should be removed from the diet.



High fructose corn syrup is the primary sweetener used in soft drinks, now readily available to children in school vending machines. The soft drink industry increased US production from 22 to 41 gallons of soft drinks per person a year between 1970 and 1997.

Teenagers and children, the industry’s main tragets, are among the largest consumers. In the past 10 years, soft drink consumption among children has almost doubled in the United States. Teenage boys now drink, on average, three or more cans of soda per day, and 10 percent drink seven or more cans a day. The average for teenage girls is more than two cans a day, and 10 percent drink more than five cans a day. A typical 20-ounce Coke contains zero fat, zero protein and 67 grams of carbohydrates, usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup.

There are an estimated 20,000 vending machines in schools nationwide, according to the National Automatic Merchandising Association. The USDA collected data on vending machines in schools and reported that 88 percent of high schools, 61 percent of middle schools and 14 percent of elementary schools have food or beverage vending machines for student use. Thirty-four percent of high schools and 15 percent of middle schools permit students to use school vending machines at any time, and 6 percent of elementary schools allow students to use vending machines during lunch.


  1. Fields, M, Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 1984, 175:530-537.
  2. Appleton, Nancy, PhD, Fructose is No Answer For a Sweetener,
  3. Hunter, Beatrice Trum, Confusing Consumers About Sugar Intake, Consumer’s Research 78, no 1 (January 1995): 14-17.
  4. Fallon, Sally and Mary Enig, Nourishing Traditions, New Trends Publishing, Washington DC, 2001, p. 23.
  5. Hallfrisch, Judith, Metabolic Effects of Dietary Fructose, FASEB Journal 4 (June 1990): 2652-2660.
  6. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, November 2002 Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922.
  7. Appleton, Nancy Ph.D., Fructose is No Answer For a Sweetener,
  9. H. F. Bunn and P. J. Higgins, Reaction of Nonosaccharides with Proteins; Possible Evolutionary Significance, Science 213 (1981):2222-2244.
  10. William L Dills Jr., Protein Fructosylation: Fructose and the Maillard Reaction, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 58 (suppl) (1993): 779S-787S.
  11. Hunter.
  12. J. MacDonald, Anne Keyser, and Deborah Pacy, Some Effects, in Man, of Varying the Load of Glucose, Sucrose, Fructose, or Sorbitol on Various Metabolites in Blood, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 31 (August 1978)): 1305-1311.
  13. Hallfrisch, Judith, Metabolic Effects of Dietary Fructose, FASEB Journal 4 (June 1990): 2652-2660.
  14. D. Zakim and R. H. Herman, Fructose Metabolism II, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 21: 315-319, 1968.
  15. A. E. Bender and K. B. Damji, Some Effects of Dietary Sucrose, World Review of Nutrition and Dietetics 15 (1972): 104-155.
  16. J. J. Rumessen and E. Gudmand-Hoyer, Functional Bowel Disease: Malabsorption and Abdominal Distress After Ingestion of Fructose, Sorbitol, and Fructose-Sorbitol Mixtures, Gastroenterology 95, no. 3 (September 1988): 694-700.
  17. Hunter,Beatrice Trum,Confusing Consumers About Sugar Intake, Consumers’ Research 78, no 1 (January 1995): 14-17.
  18. A. E. Bergstra, A. G. Lemmens, and A. C. Beynens, Dietary Fructose vs. Glucose Stimulates Nephrocalcinogenesis in Female Rats, Journal of Nutrition 123, no. 7 (July 1993): 1320-1327.
  19. R. Ivaturi and C. Kies, Mineral Balances in Humans as Affected by Fructose, High Fructose Corn Syrup and Sucrose, Plant Foods for Human Nutrition 42, no. 2 (1992): 143-151.
  20. Roger B. Mc Donald, Influence of Dietary Sucrose on Biological Aging, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 62 (suppl), (1995): 284s-293s.
  21. H. Hallfrisch, et al.,The Effects of Fructose on Blood Lipid Levels, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 37: 5, 1983, 740-748.
  22. Klevay, Leslie, Acting Director of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Human Nutrition Research Center, Grand Forks, N.D.
  23. Observation by Nancy Appleton, PhD.
  24. Hollenbeck, Claire B., Dietary Fructose Effects on Lipoprotein Metabolism and Risk for Coronary Artery Disease, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 58 (suppl), (1993): 800S-807S.
  25. Appleton, Nancy Ph.D., Fructose is No Answer For a Sweetener,
This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2003.

About the Author


Comments (21)Add Comment
Fructose and gout
written by Tony Phylactou, Apr 23 2012
I had my first gout attack about 10 years ago.
At the beginning I was having attacks every 6 months. Then gradually I was getting them
every 3 months, then every month and eventually every week.
It started at my big toe and then it was moving sometimes in my knees,and generally all
around my joints, in my feet.And the pain was agonising.
I have tried all the cures you can imagine.I tried ACV, lemons, drinking a lot of water, but
to no avail.I tried water fasting, juice fasting,baking soda, again without success.
I almost gave up meat, limiting it to only once a week ,gave up alcohol completely,again
no success.
I was living on vegetables, lots and lots of fresh fruit, milk ,cheese beans and so on .My
eating habits could not be healthier ,or so I thought.But my gout was worsening.
Then I decided to increase the amount of fruit I was consuming, thinking that if some fruit
is healthy, more fruit will be more healthy.Some days I was eating fruit only ,others over 10
portions a day.
And alas my gout instead of improving it became chronic.
I was desperate I did not know what to do.
And then one day accidentally I read an article about fructose,which is contained in fruit in
large quantities.It said that it increases uric acid, in a matter of minutes.
Fructose is also present in table sugar, and in HFCS, which is used in soft drinks.
I put two and two together and realised what I was doing wrong.
I stopped eating fruit and all other sugars, for a period of 3 weeks,and by magic I saw a
dramatic improvement.Pain was gone, swelling was gone, I was fine.
I re introduced fruit again in my diet but reducing them to 1 or 2 a day, and my gout completely
I do eat more meat now, and occasionally have an alcoholic drink, and thank God everything
seems to be fine.
Fructose was my enemy.
written by Steve m, Feb 05 2011
Sugar and HFCS are nearly identical in fructose content.

Sugar is 50/50 Glucose to Fructose

HFCS is 50/50 Glucose to Fructose
written by don, Feb 05 2011
The Weston Price foundation should do a companion piece to The Skinney on Fats called the The Fat on Sugar
written by mohammed, Feb 05 2011
Correct me if I'm wrong but his article leaves the impression that only fruit juice with added corn syrup or HFCS is the problem as if drinking unsweetened orange juice is ok as long as it doesn't contain addes sweeteners. Fruit juice is naturally high in metabolic fructose!!!
Commercial about HFCS
written by Alexander Newton, May 24 2010
I learned the dangers about 3 years ago and have tried as much as possible to keep it out of my diet by buying/cooking stuff without HFCS. All of a sudden I recently started seeing is that they are having commercials that they are selling HFCS as a good thing by showing a older brother coming into the room and saying "hah why are you eat that ice pop, you know whats in there HFCS." Then the younger brother says what are you talking about HFCS is natural, its made from corn." then the brother stopped talking. then the younger brother says "Wow did mom and dad ever teach you anything." After seeing that I have been getting so irate about this because alott of products out there have been selling there products without HFCS (ex. Most cereal products, The throwback sodas, Ice pops, and etc) So now they are seeing the danger of people actually finding out what's going on with HFCS and now starting to sell these products as if there a good thing. Now also from what I have actually heard, and found a very good example is say you are watching a movie and your eating bag of chips and all of a sudden you find that you ate the whole bag without even realizing it and still be hungery. But then you eat a apple and your full. Now what seems wrong with that picture.
for Kim and compromise
written by deirdra, May 21 2010
Hi Kim,
As a Mom and dietitian, the best way to wean your son's off soda is by moderation and then elimination. These changes are behavioral and in children can be slow coming but do discourage. Involving the kids to make other choices and having them understand they are in control of this will allow them to accept this change as well. A 16 y/o is able to understand responsibility for himself, especially if he feels he wants to be an adult (which is right around the corner) so let him "investigate" other choices by demonstrating how to read a food label and them discuss what his new choices are. I have worked with many teens on this and most are willing to accept the challenge!
written by Mary, May 20 2010
smilies/cheesy.gif This was a well written and researched report. We have stopped using things with HFCS in it and it is more difficult than you may think. Even hamburger rolls have it. The HFCS marketers say that it is safe in small doses but, small doses is not possible with it in our drinks, bread, salad dressing, cereals, etc. Since stopping HFCS the shape of my body has changed to something that I am much happier with. My weight has stayed almost the same but I am much more even from the top down. WE have been healthier than ever. I bake every weekend so that my children can still have their sugar fix, but I know what they are eating. On a related note, with cities being taxed for sugar they should demand that it be SUGAR and not a sugar substitute. Now that we are paying a premium for "sugar" it should be real.
written by Zert, May 19 2010
The criminals know that we know about these things. They are scared, even more than we are. They wouldn't dare stop killing us for a second, no matter how many e-mails with proof I send to them. They're petro-chemical market must be destroyed, it is literally MURDERING us.

My grandmother died of over acid in blood/kidney, sooner that would have been natural.

written by Simone, May 18 2010
Thank you. That article was so informative. It clarified everything that I was questioning about HFCS. I have my own personal agenda to get my friends and family (and anyone else who will listen) to stop buying products with HFCS.
written by Dr. Francis Trapani, May 17 2010
As an old-time friend of Mr Ed Bennett, I admire the work of the W.A. Price Institute.
I enjoyed this article but am trying to find out if H.F.C.S has any effect on muscle weakness and body energy.
Any help you can give me will be welcomed.
Dr Trapani
written by kim, May 08 2010
My two boys LOVE soda, and it's become a huge issue between my 16yo and us. I do not want him to drink any HFCS--and I'm careful to keep it out of our foods--but he's resenting the restriction. What could I do to counteract the effects of a few sodas a week?? Equal amounts of water? Specific vitamins or supplements? Cod liver oil?
Great Aricle
written by John E, May 02 2010
This is a great, well-researched article. I have been hearing and reading about HFCS for a few years now. The evidence that it has contributed to obesity in this country is staggering. Yet I am still hearing some sources saying that scientific studies are showing that there is little difference between HFCS and sugar... including a supposed study from the AMA. How is this possible? Is this similar to the global warming "debate" where scientists that are employed by oil companies to write papers stating they see no problem with the continued burning of fossil fuels?

Also... how can HFCS be considered natural? It's not. It uses natural ingredients, but it is hardly a "natural" product itself. I used to buy juices that said 100% natural, naively thinking that meant 100% juice. Silly me. I guess this is the equivalent of fast-food restaurants claiming their burgers "contain 100% Angus beef." True, they do "contain" Angus beef (which, of course is 100% Angus beef... wink, wink). What they don't tell you is that only a small portion of each burger "contains" the before-mentioned Angus beef. The rest is filler.

A few comments reference the political implications of HFCS and why it is so much cheaper than natural sugar, and also why sugar is more expensive, because of importing barriers. The powerful corporations that make this stuff have thousands of lobbyists that write legislation and hand it to our legislators with a big fat contribution check or a nice golf vacation. Until the public pushes back on the corporate takeover of our government and subsequently our democracy, not only won't things change... they will get worse.
written by ethany, Apr 29 2010
High fructose corn syrup is a lab-created derivative of corn found in many processed foods, including soda, salad dressings and juice drinks. Its prevalence in our diet causes concern for how exactly the body processes this sweetener and how elevated levels of fructose can affect the body.
.Comparison to Sugar
Regular table sugar is equal parts glucose and fructose, while high fructose corn syrup is anywhere from 55 to 80 percent fructose with the remainder in glucose. The modification has chemical and hormonal effects on the body.
Fructose and the liver
Fructose is only metabolized through the liver, while glucose breaks down in every cell in the body. A diet high in fructose can result in a fatty liver or even cirrhosis.
Fructose and appetite
Since fructose does not go the brain or the stomach, the hormones that make you feel full (leptin and ghrelin) are not stimulated. Without feeling full, it's easy to overeat.
Fructose and cholesterol
High fructose corn syrup can actually scar the internal walls of the arteries. The body produces cholesterol to heal the walls of the arteries, creating an ongoing cycle of damage to the arteries. This leads to heart damage.
Fructose and copper
Fructose interferes with copper metabolism, which helps collagen and elastin production, two components of healthy, youthful-looking skin. Poor copper metabolism can affect the physical appearance of skin.
Fructose and diabetes
Proven contributors to diabetes are overeating and a poor diet. Since
written by Kurt, Apr 25 2010
There is obviously a correlation between the use of HFCS and the increase of teenage obesity, when you consider the time frame of which HFCS became more widely used (mid '70s). I have always suspected this was the case. Kids have always eaten more sweets, but it wasn't until the past 35 or so years that obesity in teenagers has become much more common.
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written by Dr. Rashid A. Buttar, Mar 15 2010
This is a great article, well referenced and with sound data. From over 19 years of clinical observation as a physician, this information is dead on target. The comment below from ? Bria unfortunately, is indicative of propaganda, dissemination of misinformation and general attempt to discredit and bury true science in order to propagate a highly suspect agenda. This article on HFCS was written in 2003 and the author references 25 other journal articles. Whoever you are Bria, protect your ISP address since we, the general public are becoming more aware of a few people with multiple aliases making absurd commentary such as yours in order to promote the powers that be (the “so-called” food industry, the pharmaceutical cartel and the chemical manufacturers, etc.).

The author HAS divulged his resources and the more recent work that you refer to, came AFTER this article was published. Furthermore, anyone with any reasonable intellect and experience reviewing the literature clearly knows that the more reputable nutritional studies were done in the past, 10 years or before, prior to lobbing efforts and political motivations being the primary factor in deciding if a study were published or not. Today’s bastardization of the media and lack of journalistic integrity (not dissimilar from the lack of scientific integrity rampant in today’s world) plays the deciding factor in what is published and what is not. And then, we add to it people like you, who either for pay, or for even more sinister motivations, make such absurd commentary.

For those who seek truth, remember this: The current state of affairs in our world economy, from the free markets to the real estate industry to the financial market meltdowns (which the worse is still yet to occur) are nothing compared to the misinformation that has been shoved down the public’s throat regarding health and medicine under the pretense of “prevention” and “public safety”. Use your own brains and follow the information that appeals to your own intellects. The truth stands before you. Seize it and protect yourself and your loved ones. Point in case, simply abstaining from HFCS for only a fraction of the reasons presented in this article, will prevent you from becoming a victim of the current “system”.
written by Victor, Mar 14 2010
14 Mar 2010

I've heard that fructose is 'OK' for diabetics because it doesn't 'effect' their glucose levels (so that they'd need more insuling) and that this is because fructose (Don't know which type of fructose) goes from stomach 'directly' to adding to body fat deposits!! Where can this 'information" be confirmed or not??
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written by Cruisair, Feb 11 2010
I didn't start gaining weight until 1984 when HFCS inundated the food market. Now I have high-insulin resistance, wonky triglicerides and LDL, fatty liver, joint problems, high uric acid concentrations, and have gained a total of 150 lbs. I'm not house-bound or anything like that. In fact I'm still able to do many of the things I always did. I just don't feel good- especially after I drink a can of soda (I don't drink it anymore). It's a shame HFCS is found in da**-near everything at the supermarket. It would be fascinating if HFCS were removed from the American diet for 5 years just to see if it made a difference. I believe it would.
written by kaitlyn , Jan 28 2010
how could you make it not dangerous for us people ?
why cant there be more growing instead of "fake" foods .
written by Timothy Fitzgerald Young, Jan 21 2010
I often here reference to how inexpensive high fructose corn syrup is relative to beet and cane sugar. Yet it is rarely mentioned that the cause of that price difference is political, not agricultural. Corn is not only heavily subsidized by the U.S. government, we also have import quotas and barriers that keep domestic sugar prices artificially high compared to other countries. In a free market, beet and cane sugar would win hands down in cost of production and market dominance.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 November 2009 18:30