The battle between sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has gone into the fifth (sixth?) inning. Which will win is anybody's guess.
The two sides have been in court for three years, suing each other for false advertising.
The Western Sugar Cooperative filed the first lawsuit in 2011, accusing the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) and backers such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland of misleading the public with an educational campaign promoting HFCS as nutritionally identical to sugar.
"Sugar is sugar," the association said back then, as it spent an estimated $50 million to promote HFCS. It even sought—unsuccessfully—to persuade the Food and Drug Administration to let it change the name of HFCS to "corn sugar."
The CRA countersued in 2012, claiming that the sugar industry was smearing HFCS in order to get consumers to buy products sweetened with sugar.
(Read more: Global food prices tick up on higher sugar costs)
Both agricultural industry groups benefit from taxpayer subsidies and protections. Corn is the most highly subsidized crop in the U.S., with the federal government paying an estimated $10 billion or more in various forms of aid between 2010 and 2012, according to the Environmental Working Group's database.
And while Congress cannot agree on a farm bill, it did agree to renew a controversial safety net for the sugar industry that inflates prices.