The Sugar is the Same

By E. Freeman 10/12/2009

It’s October 30 and you’ve just left the office for home, that familiar Friday afternoon freedom sweeping over you. On the drive home, you notice the neighborhood kids out decorating their porches with scarecrows and ghoulish creatures.

Suddenly it hits you. “Oh no, I forgot to buy candy to hand out for Halloween tomorrow!” You turn into the nearest supermarket and head in, determined to get a bulk bag or two of some sweet treats for the little neighborhood ghosts and witches. As you peruse the vast selection of candy on display, something is nagging at the back of your mind. Didn’t you hear something somewhere about genetically modified sugar being used in candy? How do you know which candy contains genetically modified sugar? What if the neighbors find out you’re passing out GM candy?

But before you have a panic attack in the candy aisle, you should be informed of a very important fact about GM sugar: it doesn’t exist.

“Sugar is not genetically engineered,” Garrett Kasper, Monsanto public affairs manager, said. “Whether from sugar cane or sugarbeets, sugar is sugar. Since all of the plant DNA and proteins are removed during sugar extraction and crystallization, it doesn’t matter if the plant source is organic or GMO.  At the molecular level, the sugars are identical and equally safe.”

Campaigns against “GM” sugar have garnered attention in the media since Monsanto’s introduction of Genuity™ Roundup Ready® sugarbeets in 2008. Activist groups called for a boycott of companies such as Kelloggs and Hershey’s that may use sugar derived from Genuity™ Roundup Ready® sugarbeets in their products. But the truth is sugar is sugar—no matter where it comes from, the chemical composition is still the same: C12H22O11.

The Sugar Industry Biotech Council even has an entire Web site dedicated to clearing up the “GM sugar myth” called The Sugar is the Same. According to the site, “Independent scientific analyses conducted by internationally recognized laboratories showed that the sugar from Genuity™ Roundup Ready® sugarbeets, which are enhanced through biotechnology, is identical at the molecular level, to the sugar from other, comparably grown sugarbeets.”

So before you drive yourself crazy with the self-imposed moral dilemma of handing out candy made with “GM” sugar, stop, take a breath, and remember: the sugar is the same. Whether it comes from a conventional sugarbeet or one that’s Roundup Ready, the sugar used to make that delicious Halloween treat is identical.