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Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Bad for the Apple Industry?


Jeffri C. Bohlscheid
Food Group Technical Center
J. R. Simplot


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.

  • Critically analyze a peer-reviewed scientific article.
  • Determine major issues addressed in a scientific article.
  • Decipher trends in graphical data presentations.
  • Develop recommendations from the conclusions they draw from the research presented.
Keywords: Bees; high fructose corn syrup; hydroxymethylfurfural; colony collapse disorder; apples; apple trees; Washington
Topical Area: Scientific method, Regulatory issues, Science and the media
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division
Formats: PDF
Type/Method: Interrupted
Language: English
Subject Headings: Food Science / Technology   Organic Chemistry   Chemistry (General)   Agriculture   Botany / Plant Science  
Date Posted: 5/4/2012
Date Modified: N/A
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

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