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Jeffri C. Bohlscheid
Science & Technology Manager
Food Group Technical Center
J. R. Simplot
Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad for the Apple Industry? 

In this interrupted case, students analyze a peer-reviewed article and apply the scientific method to solve an agricultural mystery. A fictional apple farmer and his son are trying to determine if high fructose corn syrup has led to the loss of the beehives necessary for the pollination of their apple trees. In researching potential contributing factors to honeybee colony collapse disorder (CCD), the authors of the scientific study found that mishandling high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) could lead to the formation of lethal concentrations of toxic sugar by-products such as hydroxymethylfurfural (HMF). As HFCS is currently a topic of interest for many consumers and there is low awareness of the impact of CCD on U.S. food production systems, the case study lends itself to the application of the scientific method, discussion of consumer responsibilities in handling food products, and the potential consequences to the national economy of a disruption of food plant pollination. A number of spin-off topics related to economics, nutrition, chemistry, and biology are possible. The case involves critical thinking activities, interpretation of tables and graphs, and peer-to-peer learning.

The Case of the Missing Bees: High Fructose Corn Syrup and Colony Collapse Disorder

Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) has claimed approximately one-third of the commercial honeybee population in recent years. A number of causes have been suggested for this phenomenon, including the consumption of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) by the bees. This directed case investigates the issues and chemistry that might be involved in CCD related to HFCS. The case was developed for use in an undergraduate organic chemistry or food chemistry course.