If High-Fructose Corn Syrup Kills Honeybees, What Does It Do To You?
Researchers have established the conditions that foster formation of potentially dangerous levels of a toxic substance in the high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that is often fed to honey bees. Their study, which appears in the current issue of ACS' bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, may also have implications for soft drinks and dozens of other human foods that contain HFCS. The substance, hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), forms mainly from heating fructose.
In the new study, Blaise LeBlanc and Gillian Eggleston and colleagues note HFCS's ubiquitous usage as a sweetener in beverages and processed foods. Some commercial beekeepers also feed it to bees to increase reproduction and honey production. When exposed to warm temperatures, HFCS can form HMF and kill honeybees. Some researchers believe that HMF may be a factor in Colony Collapse Disorder, a mysterious disease that has killed at least one-third of the honeybee population in the United States.
USDA Agricultural Research Service: Formation of Hydroxymethylfurfural in Domestic High Fructose Corn Syrup and Its Toxicity to the Honey Bee (Apis mellifera)