Here’s How A Colorado Dentist Became Big Sugar’s Worst Nightmare - For decades, companies worked to cast doubt on whether sugar harms
The cardboard box looked unassuming, but as soon as Cristin Kearns opened it, she knew she was onto something juicy. Inside were documents donated to Colorado State University’s library by a corporation that didn’t exist anymore, one whose local beet sugar factories had shut down by the 1980s.
Decades after those closures, in 2009, Kearns flipped open the top manila folder. The first sheet of paper was a 1975 tip sheet from a sugar trade group to sugar company executives, marked “CONFIDENTIAL.” It gave instructions on how to talk to the press about a pro-sugar series of scientific studies — research funded by the trade group, a fact that had not been disclosed at the time.
The memo was just one of many gems uncovered in the course of a sprawling investigation into the sugar industry. For decades, Kearns and a cadre of researchers have discovered, Big Sugar sought to influence journalists, scientists, and regulators with the effect of delaying research into its product’s potentially harmful health effects.
As a former dentist, Kearns had seen some of those harms firsthand. But to drill down to what seemed to be the root cause — how the sugar industry grew so powerful and ubiquitous in the first place — she hung up her dental coat to become a unique blend of investigative journalist, historian, and health researcher. She now crosses the country in search of libraries with formerly confidential archives from now-defunct sugar manufacturers, trade groups, scientists, consultants, and executives.
A classic tale of an industry that rises to power based on good or innocent principles (read Big Tobacco, Big Soda, Big Oil, Big Energy, Big Pharmaceuticals, etc) and then when evidence starts emerging that the products may, in fact, be harmful, they go to great lengths to initiate their own funded research, discredit critics, manipulate the media, etc. Basically, they use their position of power to maintain that power at all costs. Unfortunately, these groups also lobby politicians so we can't look to politicians to make any stand (until it is clear they will lose votes).
Here's a tasty excerpt: The Sugar Association disputes those findings. While acknowledging that its predecessor “should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities,” it pointed out at the time of Kearns’ paper that “funding disclosures and transparency standards were not the norm they are today” and that “industry-funded research has been informative in addressing key issues.”
Fact is our bodies do not need any added sugar.
|Here’s How A Colorado Dentist Became Big Sugar’s Worst Nightmare
For decades, companies worked to cast doubt on whether sugar harms — until Cristin Kearns started digging up the dirt.