Big Sugar’s ‘Thuggish’ Tactics Come Under Fire

Trade Group Tries Unsuccessfully to Whack Report on Diet & Disease

April 21, 2003

A trade association representing sugar growers threatened to use its congressional allies to defund the World Health Organization (WHO) unless it cancels the release of its report on Diet, Nutrition, and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases. Those threats were blasted today by the Washington, DC-based Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which said the threats sounded more like blackmail than legitimate lobbying.

The long-awaited report, prepared jointly with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), is scheduled to be released in Rome on Wednesday. The report recommends diets higher in fruit and vegetables and lower in added sugars, among other things.

“Naturally, the sugar lobby would reflexively oppose any suggestion that sugar contributes to obesity and dental disease,” said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. “But we’re shocked by the bluntness of the Sugar Association’s thuggish threats. There’s nothing sweet about Big Sugar’s blackmail campaign, and we applaud WHO and FAO for resisting it.”

In one letter to WHO Director General Gro Brundtland, Sugar Association president Andrew C. Briscoe III wrote that the association would ask “Congressional appropriators to challenge future funding of the U.S.’s $406 million contributions” to the WHO. Attached to that letter is a letter from Senators Larry Craig (R-ID) and John Breaux (D-LA) to two cabinet secretaries asking them to help quash the WHO report. That letter, Briscoe hints darkly to Brundtland, “speaks for itself.”

Note: For copies of the Sugar Association letters to the World Health Organization, contact Adam Pearson at 202-777-8316 or


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