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High Fructose Corn Syrup is Harmful to the Environment, Michael Pollan Says

Posted Oct 02 2008 3:12pm

As this blog and my book SUGAR SHOCK! point out, ample research suggests that high fructose corn syrup can be quite harmful to your health (as observed here and here, for example).

Now, Michael Pollan, bestselling author of The Omnivore's Dilemma  and In Defense of Food, gives us another reason to limit or eliminate the sweetener -- it's bad for the environment, as Washington Post journalist Eviana Hartman points out.

"Most corn is grown as a monoculture, meaning that the land is used solely for corn, not rotated among crops," she writes. "This maximizes yields, but at a price: It depletes soil nutrients, requiring more pesticides and fertilizer while weakening topsoil."

Hartman then quotes Pollan, who says in an e-mail:

"The environmental footprint of HFCS is deep and wide. Look no farther than the dead zone in the Gulf [of Mexico], an area the size of New Jersey where virtually nothing will live because it has been starved of oxygen by the fertilizer runoff coming down the Mississippi from the Corn Belt.

"Then there is the atrazine in the water in farm country -- a nasty herbicide that, at concentrations as little as 0.1 part per billion, has been shown to turn male frogs into hermaphrodites."

Congrats to Hartman for drawing attention to the subject of this controversial sweetener and for recommending that people cut back on the substance.

Unfortunately, however, I'm not a fan of the journalist's advice to consume agave nectar or evaporated cane juice, as I explain in SUGAR SHOCK!

By the way, I hope to have some good news soon -- I'm trying to book Michael Pollan on my Stop SUGAR SHOCK! Radio Show.

Jennifer Moore contributed to this post.

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