Your Tax Dollars May Buy 400,000 Tons of Sugar to Keep Prices Artificially High

sugarWelcome to the government sugar/industrial/drug complex.

Sugar—in all its forms—is considered the primary cause of type 2 diabetes. It also suppresses the immune system, is linked to cancer, and leads to cognitive problems, as we reported last year. Government subsidies, taking a great variety of forms, are increasing rather than decreasing. Diabetes drug sales are now $35 billion with other related illness sales even higher. Let’s see how all this connects.

The US is the world’s largest sugar producer. We produce an average of 8.1 million tons of granulated sugar every year. Since the mid-1990s, sugarcane has accounted for 45% of the sugar produced domestically, with sugar beets providing about 55%. By 2010, genetically engineered varieties accounted for about 95% of sugar beets, up from 60% in 2008.

High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is derived from the milling of corn. Production of HFCS increased from 2.2 million tons in the 1980s to an average of 9.2 million tons during the 2000s. In general, deliveries of sugar (raw cane sugar and sugar beets) and other sweeteners (corn sweeteners, honey, maple syrup, and edible syrups, excluding no caloric sweeteners) averaged about 21 million tons during the 2000s.

The US Department of Agriculture makes loans every year to processors of domestically grown sugarcane and sugar beets as part of the 2008 Sugar Act. HFCS processors, on the other hand, benefit from corn subsidies (also reinforced in the 2008 Farm Bill).

Last October, sugar processors (both beet and sugarcane) borrowed $862 million under the price support program—loans secured with some 4.1 billion pounds, or 2.05 million tons, of sugar that companies expect to produce from the current harvest.

The loans did little to keep sugar prices high, however: they have fallen 18% since October. According to a Tufts study, one reason may be that the elevated price of raw sugar and sugar beets enable HFCS processors to undercut sugar producers with their cheaper product, thus making the sugar worth less. Sugar processors are afraid they’ll have to default on their loans, which could result in $80 million in losses to the USDA’s price support program. USDA is considering helping them out once again—this time by buying 400,000 tons of sugar, just so they can pay back their loan!

Keeping sugar prices up of course means that consumers spend more. According to a study commissioned by the Sweetener Users Association, the program costs consumers $2.9 billion to $3.5 billion annually. A bipartisan group of senators wrote an article for the Capitol Hill newspaper The Hill in which they said that by controlling the sugar supply, our government is boosting prices and those higher prices cost the country 20,000 jobs each year.

Of course, part of USDA’s excuse for rubberstamping GMO sugar beets was that the economy depended on sugar production. Hmm?

Why is this happening? Why is the government gouging consumers and encouraging an industry which contributes to so much illness? Sugar makes up only 1.9% of the total value of all US crops, but the sugar industry accounts for 33% of crop-related lobbying dollars. They also give 55% of crop-related PAC donations—more than all other US crops combined.

An intensive public relations campaign that started in the early 1970s was able to sweeten public opinion about sugar in a major way. The industry bankrolled scientific research. Each research proposal was overseen by a panel of industry-friendly scientists plus a committee of representatives from sugar companies and “contributing research members” such as Coca-Cola, Hershey’s, General Mills, and Nabisco. Unsurprisingly, each of the studies they funded seemed to point to sugar’s safety. No independent research showing how dangerous sugar is was considered for funding. Big Sugar even contributed to supportive FDA and USDA rulings on sugar: leading the panel that evaluated sugar for the FDA was a former chair of the scientific advisory board for the International Sugar Research Foundation.

By now the cover-up has frayed. Everyone knows that sugar is a health risk. You may recall our article in which we reported that type 2 diabetes has increased by 90% in the past decade. A new study, published in the peer-reviewed online journal PLOS One, finds a direct correlation between sugar and diabetes—a correlation that is independent of other factors such as obesity, aging, exercise, or tobacco and alcohol use.

The study concludes that “Duration and degree of sugar exposure correlated significantly with diabetes prevalence in a dose-dependent manner, while declines in sugar exposure correlated with significant subsequent declines in diabetes rates independently of other socioeconomic, dietary and obesity prevalence changes.” In plain English, they found that the more sugar you consume and the longer you consume it, the higher your diabetes risk; and as sugar consumption drops, diabetes rates drop as well.

The CDC says there will be nearly 140 million diabetics in this country within the next forty years. Diabetes drugs are big business—they bring in $35 billion now, but are poised to jump to $58 billion by 2018.

Think about that. If diabetes drugs make so much money, the pharmaceutical industry has a reason not to try to cure the disease. Meanwhile your government is supporting both the sugar industry and the drug companies. And not only are the drug companies—like the sugar producers—big campaign donors. They are also providing much of the funding of the US Food and Drug Administration.

The link between chronic diseases of all kinds, government policies and subsidies, and drug profits is not a pretty one. But knowing what is going on is the first step toward cleaning up the system.


  1. I had elevated blood sugar levels for a few years in my sixties. After an emergency 6 hour abdominal surgery and subsequent ones, I became diabetic. Reducing sugar brought me down to pre-diabetic again. I then realized that carbs break down to sugar in the blood, and reduced them. I also reduced my overall calories intake and weight a little bit, with a small amount of increased exercise. My last blood sugar test showed 94, below the higher end of normal, which is 100!
    The difficulty is that diabetes increases the desire for sugar and carbs, producing virtual cravings, much like an addiction. But after some months, these are fading. Having to do daily blood tests and at times inject insulin was enough of a motivator for me to implement lifestyle changes. Now at 70 years it is decreasing, and I believe if I keep doing what I am doing, it will decrease even further, lowering my risk for major killers of the elderly, such as heart problems and strokes. I take many supplements, and at now 70 years old, my rising blood pressure is also down to normal again. I share this as the medical profession in general treats diabetes condition and the “obesity syndrome” as needing medical solutions, (drugs).
    People need to know about the major improvements that can be produced without them.

  2. Sugar is Public Enemy Number One
    Read “Sugar Blues” by William Dufty
    I read this back in 1976 and have not had sugar every since.
    Someone else is eating my share of over 200lbs consumed by every man woman & child in the USA a year so no wonder Diabetes is up 90%.
    People what do you think would happen to you if you were eating 200lbs of Cocaine a year.
    Well sugar is no different.

    1. No, no, no. Sugar IS different – it is a nutrient needed for every your living cell. The ONLY thing that makes it TOXIC – is OVER-CONSUMPTION! Eat 200 lbs of Vitamin C and you will die even SOONER!
      Unlike sugars (glucose, ribose, etc..) , Cocaine – is ABSOLUTELY NEEDLESS for life. Human’s stupidity and ignorance makes a lot of strange-surprising things: drinks sodas to death, eats crap to death and, yes – kills the planet Earth and our own very existence.

  3. so tired of companies and the government draining every penny out of us. time for Robin Hood to come back (for real) and take from the rich and give back to the poor and middle class. thank you

    1. No, this is the time to GROW UP to adult, informed and educated people, taking responsibilities for WHAT they eat and NOT to leave it for government and nanny state. Please do NOT be naive dreamer. There is NO Santa Claus in this world.

  4. Well, when you think about it, the worst foods in the US are the factory farmed, processed cramp. These are generally grown by corporate farms (some by huge family owned factory farms which are just as bad).
    Because these garbage farms get govt subsidization while the organic and sustainable farmers do not, these foods are cheaper because we pay for the garbage from our taxes. (directly to corporations)
    If there were NO farm subsidies, organic food would not only be less toxic, better for us, but ALSO cheaper because the cost of those expensive chemicals and petro involved processes would be gone and decreased in various cases: no poisons, fewer if any tractor runs, etc.

    1. Yes, you are right. The dream is not going to come true unless majority of American people are very-well educated of what FOOD is. For now they eat food additives typically because “they taste so-o-o good…” That’s the most common argument for eating garbage. And sadly the more they eat it the more they loss ability to feel flavor of REAL food.

  5. GOOD article, BUT one of the key points is quite misleading: SUGAR IS NOT A POISON and, you failed to mention that SUGAR IS A VITAL MACRO-NUTRIENT absolutely needed for brain functioning. Sugar is a part of chemical structure of every DNA and RNA in every cell of YOUR body. NO SUGAR – NO LIFE.
    The CORRECT point is that there are NO TOXIC COMPOUNDS on the Earth, there are TOXIC DOSES!!!
    What this means and what clearly follows? Look, Botulotoxin ( is the most toxic substance known (natural, by the way) but in tiny amounts is is used in medicine and cosmetics (Botox). Snake venom is another bright example. So, what follows is:
    1) Ignorant population consume TOO much sugar and makes it extremely toxic by doing so. I do not give how much sugar we do produce in America – I do not eat it. Educated and informed people know that TOO MUCH OF ANYTHING is toxic, including vitamins and pure WATER ( Ignorance is what kills.
    2) We need to educate public and that is what you are doing well. But do not mislead the public into believe that sugar is an absolute EVIL somehow. Please do not stake one ignorant statement over another. The EVIL is in consumption of TOO MUCH of sugar and HFCS. And the consumption of sugar IS in PEOPLE’s control!!!! Drink water (but not a gallon/hour! – it will kill you – should I write this on a wall?”??) Do not eat too much sweets – it will kill you! Do not eat too much fats – it will kill you! Do not eat too much fruits – it will kill you! (perhaps, like Steve Jobs did…). Ignorance, NOT sugar, is what kills!

    1. While “there are no toxic compounds on the earth”, the highly processed man-made ones are. All “white” products are harmful. The natural, unadulterated gifts that Mother Earth gives us are best, except when they are altered.

    2. Clever argument, and correct. Too much of anything is ill advised. Just like the subsidies the US People pay for the easy access to this drug.(if not actually a toxin). Our money does not need to go to sugar, fat and salt:but rather to fresh vegetables and fruit, the bottom of the pyramid. The gov’t- Dems and Reps, are robbing us of proper health and nutrition by selling out to these corporate weasels. For the most part you can blame yourselves for continuing tho vote these clowns in.

    3. You’re totally confusing sugar with glucose. Sugar is composed of both glucose and fructose. The body considers fructose to be a toxin and shunts it directly to the liver for disposal. Avoid fructose and limit glucose to no more than 150 grams a day, the body’s processing limit.

  6. Dye Diet, the brain requires glucose, not sugar. Your ignorance is perpetuating the problem. I’m insulin-dependent and my blood sugar is normal so long as I avoid carbs including sugar. Never mind that many carbs other than sugar are wholesome, nourishing vital dietary ingredients, they are toxic to diabetics and the insulin-resistant even at low intakes – Dr Bernstein’ Diabetes Diet has worked for me for 15 years – so I say again: sugar is not a vital dietary ingredient because otherwise I’d be dead

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