Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Our honey bee population has declined more than 25 percent over the past few years. endangering us. Honey bees are responsible for pollinating more than 130 different crops and are a key factor in the agricultural industry's ability to provide food products and cosmetics. A variety of suspects in the decline of bees are poor nutrition, invasive mites and colony collapse disorder (CCD), where bees from a colony abruptly desert the hive and die. Some scientists, however, believe highly toxic pesticides--neonicotinoids--applied to seeds, travel systemically through the plant and leave residues that contaminate the pollen, resulting in billions of bee death or paralysis. The French refer to the effect as "mad bee disease" and in 1999 were the first to ban the use of these chemicals, which are currently only marketed under the trade names Gaucho and Poncho. Germany recently banned Poncho from use on corn seeds
The latest suspect for the decimation of the bees is a common food additive blamed for the current increase in overweight among humans --High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).It is the syrup of corn treated with enzymes to make it sweeter. It is commonly used in bakery and confectionery products and soft drinks. It is also used in bee keeping to stimulate brood rearing in the spring and to increase honey production. Bees’ predilection for the sweetener was first observed when they were seen to swarm to spillages of the syrup around facilities and rail roads.
Researchers from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) cited a new report that the heating of HFCS raises levels of hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), a toxin that causes gut ulceration and dysentery-like symptoms in bees. In humans it has been linked to DNA damage and its breakdown metabolites levulinic and formic acids (see my Consumer’s Dictionary of Food Additives) have also been reported to cause harm. The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry noted recently the data are important for commercial beekeepers, for manufacturers of HFCS, and for purposes of food storage. The information is also important because HFCS is incorporated as a sweetener in many processed foods for humans.
The Corn Refiners Association (CRF) is now active combating the accusations against HFCS. The CRF points out high fructose corn syrup is used to provide the same sweetness of sugar “so that consumers would not notice a difference in taste”. It has replaced sugar in certain foods and beverages. Why? Well, it’s cheaper than sugar but that’s not all. HFCS, according to the producers, protects foods from spoilage, enhances fruit and spice flavors, which is why it is commonly used in yogurts, sauces and marinades and provides "pour ability" to products like frozen juice concentrates. Sugar doesn’t. It makes breads brown better, retains moisture in breakfast bars and bran cereals and gives soft texture to baked goods.”
In 2009, an article in the Journal of Clinical Investigation of The American Society for Clinical Investigation authored by many scientists---most of them from California universities--was entitled: “Consuming fructose-sweetened, not glucose-sweetened, beverages increases visceral adiposity and lipids (fats in the belly and blood) and decreases insulin sensitivity in overweight/obese humans” HFCS the scientists wrote may be the cause of the rise in obesity and diabetes in many parts of the world. The Corn Refiners spokespersons responded by pointing out that Mexico and Europe have rising rates of obesity and diabetes, despite having little or no HFCS in their foods and beverages.
Are the bees an early warning system like the canaries were in the mines or is it much ado about nothing more than a cheap, high calorie sweetener? You decide at the supermarket.