Just Call Me, Mr. Pancreas
Tweeting this, the Diabetes Online Community got some laughs and someone observed how wrong it sounded on so many levels. Bernard also opined with a laugh while making the astute observation that it would be a cold day before he'd ever refer to me as "Sugar." We all got some laughs for a few hours, and then the funniness and novelty of it began to fade.
That is, until a news story came across my screen and made the whole name-change phenomenon more timely and pertinent. My mind began swirling some more about whether I actually should change my name, given what I was reading online.
News stories told me that the makers of High Fructose Corn Syrup want to sweeten the product's image with a new name: corn sugar. The Corn Refiners Association applied Sept. 14 to the Food and Drug Administration for permission to use the name on food labels, rather than the one that's highly-controversial because of health concerns about it. The group hopes a new name will ease confusion about the sweetener, which is used in a majority of soft drinks, bread, cereal and so many other food products.
Nationally, consumer concerns that HFCS is more harmful or more likely to cause obesity than ordinary sugar have pushed the consumption levels to a 20-year low. Scientific evidence is scattered on whether that's true, but more research appears to be leading to that conclusion and people are becoming more worried about the possibility. The industry says moderation is key and that "sugar is sugar," despite the fact that HFCS is almost impossible to consume in moderation because it's in so much and that it's not naturally created. Rather, it's a genetically-engineered product that is not naturally derived from corn and so our bodies just don't react the same ways to it.
But on the heels of a PR nightmare that it's losing the battle on, Big Corn is now looking at a name-switch to ease those woes and more easily
Yes, that's the truth. That is why Big Corn spent an estimated $30 million in cranking out ads that basically make HFCS opponents look like confused, inarticulate idiots who just don't know the "sweet surprise" of what they're talking about. When that doesn't work, they simply push for a name change to further the wool-over-the-eyes campaign.
This whole name-change concept has also been tossed around about the larger dubbing of Diabetes, on whether we should have labels to distinguish the various types. Should we refer to it as Type 1 diabetes, or should a different name be out there to distingush this chronic condition from the "epidemic" of Type 2?
So, will a name-switch do the job? Does it really matter? Do these name changes practically mean anything, or are they simple marketing ploys designed to make something more pretty than what it really is? Are we really expecting that something will actually be different than what an original moniker seemed to say, mirroring whatever the new name implies?
That must be the case, as Big Corn says.
So, taking these renames at face value for a moment, my decision about changing my name becomes crystal clear: Michael just can't stay, you see, because I'm not an angel. Far from it. But no, I won't be changing it to Glucose, Sugar, Insulin, or anything of the like.
Instead, my new name will be: Pancreas. Mr. Pancreas Hoskins.
Under the Corn Refiner logic, if that's my name then magically my pancreas will work. I'd no longer be diabetic, because my name change would simply tell the truth of how my insulin-producing organ isn't "broken" as any other name might imply. Rather, it works just fine because my name says so.
Realizing how obvious this name-change solution was, this all makes me feel quite stupid. Honestly, very stupid. And it should be upsetting to you and every person who's ever researched or fought for a cure at some point in life. The JDRF and ADA should be livid. Why? Well, because finding a cure was always as simple as changing one's name. Because, as Big Corn wants you to believe, that makes all the difference.
What once gushed in fears of "Oh No!, it's High Fructose Corn Syrup" will now just lead to sighs of relief and smiles: "Aww, it's just like sugar. No biggie."
I wouldn't want to send the wrong message.