PHILIPPINES: Senators seeking HFCS enquiry

Published: 02/15/2017, 7:03:18 AM

Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri and Richard Gordon are seeking an inquiry on the importation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and its effects to the sugar industry, according to the Philippines' Sun Star newspaper.

They filed a resolution on February 8, directing the appropriate senate committees to conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the impact to the domestic sugar industry of the increasing importation of HFCS and the need to review the policies of the government on the importation of the said sweetener to protect the interest of the small farmers, agrarian reform beneficiaries, and the domestic sugar industry.

The resolution noted that the unabated importation of HFCS is driving down sugar prices. It also affects the livelihood of the farmers and the sugar industry as a whole as the continued plunge of prices of sugar has a negative effect on the industry, making it hard for sugar producers and small farmers to recoup their expenses.

There is a need to conduct an impact assessment of the effects of the massive importation of HFCS on the local economy, more importantly on the sugar industry, as the continued drop in prices of the local sugar will eventually trickle down to the millions of Filipinos who depend on sugar for survival, it said.

The resolution stressed that there is a need to look into this matter to address the pressing issue that plagues the sugar industry, a major contributor to the country's gross domestic product, and propose possible remedial legislation to safeguard the interests of concerned stakeholders.

It also said that HFCS is a processed sugar substitute derived from cornstarch and is commonly used in the food and beverage industry as a replacement or in combination with table sugar or sucrose.

HFCS is not produced domestically, thus industrial users of said processed sweetener and preservative imported over 766,890 metric tonnes from 2011 to 2016 and used the same in the formation of commercial foodstuff such as carbonated drinks, cookies, breakfast cereals, packaged pastries, candy bars, and condiments, the resolution said.

Since HFCS is a cheaper alternative to using sucrose, a lot of food and beverage manufacturing companies shifted to using the said sweeter which resulted in the continued decline in local sugar prices, it said.

Last week, 15 congressmen filed a resolution urging the appropriate House committee to immediately conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the impacts of the importation, use, and sale of HFCS on the sustainability of the sugar industry Members of the Visayan Bloc in the House are also pushing for an inquiry, which was also supported by Senator Juan Edgardo Angara. Angara also assured the Negrenses that he will wait for the recommendation of the lower house then act on it.