Sugar groups seek ban on corn syrup imports

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BACOLOD CITY: Various groups involved in the sugar industry in the Negros Island Region (NIR) on Wednesday issued a call to the government to stop the importation of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) to protect the industry.

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The resolution was passed during the launching of the Save the Sugar Industry Movement (Save-SIM) here headed by lead convenor Wennie Sancho.

Save-SIM is a multi-sectoral alliance of labor advocates, workers, consumers, small entrepreneurs and self-employed people, who are directly and indirectly affected by the sugar industry.

The resolution signed by the 18 convenors was addressed to the Office of the President, Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA), Congress, and beverage companies.

It stated, “In order to avert the forthcoming economic disaster including hunger and the possibility of a social unrest due to massive poverty, the issue on HFCS importation must be addressed immediately.”

“We appeal to the concerned soft drink companies to consider the harmful effects of HFCS on the health of the people and stop its importation instantly,” it added.

The resolution also said that the unabated importation of HFCS has driven down sugar prices by P300 per 50-kilo bag, and that prices are expected to decrease further by as much as P600 per bag.

Since 2011, HFCS importation increased to almost 235,000 metric tons annually as of September last year, the group added.

It also noted that data presented earlier by sugar industry leaders showed that for crop year 2016 to 2017, the country’s sugar industry would incur at least P25 billion in opportunity losses, with about 65 percent of those losses being borne by the sugar industry in Negros.

Earlier, Kilusang Pagbabago-Negros Island Region spokesperson Archie Baribar said he is seeking an appointment with President Rodrigo Duterte to deliver the collective letter of the stakeholders of the sugar industry, asking for assistance in their campaign to stop the importation of HFCS by beverage companies.

Baribar, along with National Federation of Sugar Planters (NFSP) President Enrique Rojas, Confederation of Sugar Producers (CONFED) National President Francis de la Rama, United Sugar Producers Federation of the Philippines (UNIFED) President Manuel Lamata, and agrarian reform beneficiary Ranee Lava, signed the resolution.

Also joining them were Sancho, who is also the secretary-general of the General Alliance Workers Associations (GAWA), and Hernane Braza, representing the National Congress of Unions in the Sugar Industry of the Philippines-Trade Union Congress of the Philippines.

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