Corn Syrup is primarily known as the sugar extracted from the corn. Most people know that corn is an all natural ingredient and there are several myths that people think when corn syrup comes to mind. This paper would show the effects that corn syrup has not only to the health but also to the environment and society.
Before anything else, it is important to show the importance of the topic that I am talking about. I am sure that everybody in this room is consuming bread, sodas and cereals. Is everybody aware that the things that I have mentioned contain High Fructose Corn Syrup? You may think now, “So what? What is High Fructose Corn Syrup anyway?” Well, the products that I have mentioned awhile ago usually have sugar on it. However, food manufacturers had replaced the use of sugar with the use of High Fructose Corn Syrup. According to an article from Linda Forristal which she had written for a Food Magazine, Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, High Fructose Corn Syrup is cheaper than the natural sugar that is why food manufacturers had used it as a replacement. This substance is manufactured by subjecting corn starch to different processes to produce glucose. The glucose then goes through another process to produce fructose.
However, there are some things that most of you should be aware of about this substance. Ms. Forristal had elaborated that it may taste the same as the sugar that comes from the sugar cane and the beets. Most of you would like to avoid genetically modified food however, what you do not know is that, quoting from Ms. Forristal’s article, this came from “genetically modified corn and enzymes” to make it stable. As we all know some of products that had its structured modified could be harmful to the health. There is evidence of this that shows that it could affect both humans and animals that consumes this substance. Since most of the products that people consume contain HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), Dr. Meira Field, an investigator from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), tried testing HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup) and regular sugar on two groups of rats. After the test, those who had consumed regular sugar (glucose) appear unaffected but those who have been exposed to HFCS had several defects on their body.
The male rats had disease like heart hypertrophy and delayed testicular development. The livers of the male rats looks life those of alcoholics and are cirrhotic. The explanation that Dr. Field had provided was that glucose can be processed by any cell in the body. However, fructose can only be processed in the liver. The females, on the other hand, seemed to be unaffected but they were not able to produce any babies. An article from Los Angeles Times last July 14, 2008 had shown a test done by Peter Havel of UC Davis which had been presented to the Endocrine Society last June 2008. The study shows that there have been 33 subjects. Same done with the rats half got their calories from fructose and the other half glucose. Both groups had gained 3.3 pounds in a span of 12 weeks. The fructose group had an increase in the not so desirable fat while the other group had none. Triglycerides, and cholesterol levels heightened up and insulin sensitivity had decreased for those who consume HFCS. As we all know these are danger symptoms for diabetes.
This is not the only problem that the HFCS contributes to society. An article published in Washington Post last March 9, 2008 in its EcoWise column, had shown evidence that it is also harmful to the environment. According to the article, most of the corn is treated as a monoculture which means that the land is not used for other crops except corn. As a result the soil that is used for the corn is maximized. Nutrients are depleted and require fertilizers and herbicides. Michael Pollan, the author of the book “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” (Penguin Press, 2008), had stated that there is a zone in Mexico like the size of New Jersey that has died because it has been starved off oxygen. The reason for this is the fertilizer that is running off from Mississippi Corn Belt. Another environmental effect is that there is evidence of atrazine, an herbicide, in the water in farm country. When the water was tested, it had been found that it contains 0.1 parts per billion of atrazine. Although it is a very small amount, there are studies that had proven that this had made male frogs hermaphrodites.
After all the evidences presented, why do food manufacturers seem not to care? Well, the answer to this is money. Going back to Ms Linda Forristal’s article, production of HFCS is cheaper even if it has to go through more processing as compared to sugar. It can also be easily transported because it is piped down a transport truck. Another reason that manufacturers use this substance is because it is also easier to blend than sugar into beverages. Being monoculture, corn growers also earn a lot of money from producing corn because they are able to maximize their land by producing corn. All year round, they are able to produce a lot of corn. Another revelation from Ms. Forristal’s article is that the manufacture of HFCS had been right on time. Since there are several processes being discovered such as the partial hydrogenation process had made the production of shortenings and margarines has made it possible to extract substance from the soybeans. This had become a direct competitor to corn. In order to use the corn, the discovery of HFCS is very timely.
There are several solutions to the problem that the individual and manufacturers can use in order to avoid its harmful effects to health. For the manufacturers, it has been discovered by Dr. Chi Tang Ho a member of American Chemical society that a compound found in tea called the epigallocatechin gallate (ECGG) can help lower the reactive carbonyls that causes the increase in cholesterol levels and triglycerides. Based on the study, when the ECGG was added to the carbonated drinks carbonyl levels went down by almost half. Manufacturers could either add ECGG in order to reduce the carbonyl levels in the products that they have or just use the alternative which is table sugar. As shown in the article from TIME, commercials have the power to give the public what they want. The manufacturers should educate the consumers so that they would be able to minimize the consumption of this particular substance. As stated, since the manufacturers are not using other alternatives to sweeten their products, then they must educate the consumers about the things that they are consuming. TIME had shown an unbiased report regarding the corn syrup and sugar. This must always be done in order to provide the customers the service that they want from these big manufacturers. One thing that had me thinking which Ms. Forristal had stated about the babies drinks. As per the labels HFCS is not present in milk formulas for babies. There had been evidences that HFCS can have effects to small children. Maybe this is the reason why it is not use for baby formulad.
Individually, the solution to avoid HFCS is to eat moderately. People would not suffer if they have everything in moderation. Too much would cause problems in the body. Just like smoking, too much smoking can kill you but it is still up to the individual if he or she is going to stop smoking. Even if the consumers had been taught the effects of HFCS to the body, some would still use the HFCS because it is more practical for the manufacturers to use it.
Commercials can provide a lot of information on the health risks that are available in the I believe that manufacturers should educate the consumers on the things that they are consuming. Nowadays, being organic is becoming a trend. However, if proper regulations are not done, most food would contain harmful preservatives that could do something to the health of the consumers. Proper regulations are also important . The government must also help in the battle against genetically modified food that is harmful to the body and it must promote organic food.
As a conclusion, most of the articles that I have shown you gives the effects of HFCS not only to the products that the consumers are consuming. It also provides what the substance is contributing to society and the environment. The consumption of HFCS of a particular individual depends on what they consume. It is always up to the individual if he or she is going to consume high levels of this substance. The control is with the individual and not up to the commercials or ads. Consumption of individuals and reduction of the consumption of HFCS depends on the public.
Forristal, Linda (2001, Fall). The Murky World of High Fructose Corn Syrup. Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts.
American Chemical Society (2007, August 23). Soda Warning? High-fructose Corn Syrup Linked To Diabetes, New Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2007/08/070823094819.htm
McLaughlin, Lisa (2008, September 17). Is High Fructose Corn Syrup Really Good For You? Time. Retrieved November 23, 2008 from http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1841910,00.html?imw=Y
Los Angeles Times (2008, July 14). High Fructose Corn Syrup. Health page F-5
Hartmann, Eviana. (2008, March 9) High-Fructose Corn Syrup: Not So Sweet for the Planet. Washington Post. Page N02