Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Monday, 31 August 2009

High Fructose Corn Syrup, bees and humans.

Mrs Rigby always liked the idea of having bees in her garden, because she and all the other Rigbys eat quite a lot of honey. Like so many good ideas, nothing ever came of it, but it doesn't mean she isn't interested in what happens to honey bees.

Bee-keeping seems to be beset with problems these days, with whole colonies being wiped out by the nasty little varroa mite, but there were other things going wrong.

Some clever scientists in America think they might have worked out another reason for bees dying - it's the food they're being given by their well-meaning keepers.

Mrs R spotted an article in a newspaper and promptly lost the link, so spent a couple of minutes searching the net to find it again. She's managed to tracked down the source, which is the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. This is what it says
... high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has become a sucrose replacement for honey bees and has widespread use as a sweetener in many processed foods and beverages for human consumption. It is utilized by commercial beekeepers as a food for honey bees for several reasons: to promote brood production, after bees have been moved for commercial pollination, and when field-gathered nectar sources are scarce. Hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF) is a heat-formed contaminant and is the most noted toxin to honey bees. ....
There's more of the article, but unfortunately Mrs R isn't a special enough person to be able to read it, so she looked somewhere else and found this
The scientists measured levels of HMF in HFCS products from different manufacturers over a period of 35 days at different temperatures. As temperatures rose, levels of HMF increased steadily. Levels jumped dramatically at about 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Yes, that's all fine and dandy, they've found something that kills bees. It's a solvable problem because they can be given something else to eat. Sounds like good news to bee-keepers and good news for honey-eaters too, because it might mean that British honey is safe after all.

There's a extra bit
Because HFCS is incorporated as a sweetener in many processed foods, the data from this study are important for human health as well,” the report states. It adds that studies have linked HMF to DNA damage in humans. In addition, HMF breaks down in the body to other substances potentially more harmful than HMF
So we're eating this stuff too? And it can alter DNA?

Where are the banner headlines telling us all about the health risks? There were some only a few days ago telling us that ham sandwiches might give us cancer, but zilch, zero, nothing at all about this - so mebbe it isn't really dangerous at all, unless you're a bee.

Mebbe, though, if you eat some hot High Fructose Corn Syrup and then give a DNA sample ...?

Nah! Silly idea!

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