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Heat turns high-fructose corn syrup into honey bee killer


Washington : Heat fosters the formation of a potentially dangerous toxic substance in high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) killing honey bees who had the syrup, says a new study. This may also have implications for humans as soft drinks and dozens of other food substances contain HFCS.

The substance, hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF), forms mainly from heating fructose.

Studies have linked HMF to DNA damage in humans. Besides, HMF breaks down in the body to other substances potentially more harmful than HMF.

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 US.

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 (48.8 degrees Celsius), says a release of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

“The data are important for commercial beekeepers, for manufacturers of HFCS, and for purposes of food storage. 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.

These findings appear in the current issue of ACS’ bi-weekly Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.