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Battle over sugar’s health effects spurs development of new biotech-based sweeteners

This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

The idea that, beyond their ability to inflate the calories of food, added sugars are uniquely bad for us is still controversial, but the circumstantial evidence is strong. Research shows that the consumption of added sugars is associated with the development of metabolic syndrome, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

Public health groups have taken up the cause and pushed for laws and rules they believe will reduce the ready availability of food high in added sugars. Sugar-sweetened sodas were first in the crosshairs. Fourteen countries around the world now tax the drinks.

In the US, taxes on sugary drinks can be found in only a handful of cities and counties. But a new national food-labeling policy will, for the first time, call out the amount of sugar added to packaged food and drinks. It will shine a harsh spotlight on the common food industry practice of adding sugar to almost everything on grocery store shelves.

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Shoppers will soon see changes in the ingredients of the food and drinks they buy. To avoid cringe-worthy labels, food companies are trying to lower sugar levels without using the synthetic sweeteners that consumers have come to distrust. They are turning to a new arsenal of label-friendly sweeteners from ingredient suppliers using industrial biotechnology. Instead of the usual sugars, syrups, and aspartame, many of tomorrow’s labels will boast stevia molecules, the sugar alcohol erythritol, and a new low-calorie sugar called allulose.

Read full, original article: The sugar wars are about to change your food label. Here’s why

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