The first step in a high-stakes battle with important ramifications for nutrition-minded American consumers takes place on Sept. 13, 2011, in a Los Angeles federal courtroom. A coalition of sugar farmers' cooperatives and other producers, including C&H Sugar Company, have accused the producers of High Fructose Corn Syrup of what amounts to food identity theft. Among the several defendants are the giant company Archer-Daniels-Midland, Cargill and the Corn Refiners Association.

The sugar farmers allege that the defendants have spent $50 million in a mass media rebranding campaign that misleads the consuming public by asserting that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is natural and is indistinguishable from the sugar extracted from sugar cane and sugar beets. They are also asking the Food & Drug Administration to allow HFCS to be called "corn sugar" on food and beverage ingredient labels, even though "corn sugar" has for many decades been the commonly used name of a distinct corn starch product.

The defendants' current claims that theirs is a "natural" product equivalent to real sugar are demonstrably false. In 1997, as part of an effort to expand the production and consumption of HFCS in Mexico, the defendants themselves submitted affidavits attesting to the exactly opposite conclusion in order to support their claim that HFCS would not conflict with the Mexican sugar production. In these documents, the defendants admitted that, far from being natural, HFCS is an industrially manufactured chemical made by two molecular level transformations requiring advanced technology. In a supporting affidavit, the defendants told the Mexican government that "HFCS is a unique food ingredient which is the result of extensive scientific research and development."

The misleading marketing campaign claims that "sugar is sugar" and its implication that there are no differences between HFCS and real sugar is also belied by the defendants' past admissions that there are significant differences in chemistry, functionality, use and even human perception.