Monday, March 27, 2017

Quandary of the PH Sugar Industry

Agriculture PH reported in February this year that the long drawn out issue about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) importation that is highly damaging to the local sugar industry has been addressed by the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA). This was a result of pressure exerted by farmers and sugar industry associations.

The issue stemmed from the importation and use of HFCS in the softdrinks industry. The backdrop of farmers and sugar industry stakeholders having losses worth Php10. Billion annually since 2011 prompted the action. The SRA issued SO 3 that called for the implementation of guidelines in regulating the importation of HFCS.

In a sudden turnabout, Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary Emmanuel F. PiƱol ordered SO 3 deferred since the SRA did not consult stakeholders, such as softdrinks manufacturers prior to its issuance of SO 3. 

“There’s a problem with SO 3 of the SRA because it regulates the importation of HFCS, which Coca-Cola uses in producing its soft drinks. Now, Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola appealed to me, saying  they were not properly consulted,” the DA Secretary said.

It was added that this will also affect the country's ties with China since HFCS were imported from China.

But it is not only with regards to its industry opponents that HFCS is the subject of recent controversy, another dimension is about its effects to health.

HFCS causes the following: 

1. Weight Gain – A Princeton University study discovered that HFCS causes more weight gain than use of refined sugar
2. Cancer – American Association for Cancer Research found that fructose in HFCS promotes cancer growth specifically pancreatic cancer.
3. Fatty Liver and Liver Stress – Fructose causes fat accumulation in the liver. Fructose also overwhelms the liver’s processing capacity. 
4. Increased Cholesterol Levels

Aside from an ambiguous agricultural industry policy that is detrimental to the local sugar industry, the health issue is also a significant and crucial factor to be considered.

Given such, the importation and use of HFCS comes with too high a cost for the country.

About the Author

The Mail Man

Author & Editor - The Philippines' Web Magazine on Agriculture.

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