Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Texas A&M scientist tracks origins of bootleg honey from China

30.04.2010
A Texas A&M University scientist spends hours at a time peering at slides of pollen samples, comparing them to track down the origins of honey with questionable heritage. Some of the samples contain labels from other countries when in fact they originated in China but were re-routed to avoid tariffs of up to 500 percent, says Vaughn Bryant, a palynologist and an anthropology professor at Texas A&M University.

The tariffs were attached to the import of Chinese honey about two years ago because exporters there were "dumping" it in the U.S. – selling it at a much lower price than its cost, which is about one-half what it costs U.S. honey producers. The practice has almost ruined the market for domestic honey, says Bryant, who is also director of the palynology laboratory at Texas A&M.

China is the largest honey producer in the world.

Bryant, who examines more than 100 honey samples a year for importers, exporters, beekeepers and producers, says he believes he is the only person in the United States doing melissopalynology – the study of pollen in honey – on a routine basis. For the last five years, he has analyzed the pollen in honey samples from all over the world to determine the nectar sources and origin of the honey.

He examines imported samples purported to come from Viet Nam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos, and usually discovers that the samples are blends "with a little honey from those countries and a majority of the blend coming from Chinese sources."

"Now there are lots of shenanigans going on to avoid having to pay those tariffs, and the investigators are way behind in following them," Bryant says. "The beekeepers of the U.S. have been pleading with the FDA to enact stricter guidelines about accurate labeling for honey, but that is a long, slow process. Meanwhile, I'm trying to help out here and there, but it's almost impossible to keep up."

Some foreign exporters get around the tariff by mixing honey from different sources, while others infuse up to 50 percent high fructose corn syrup into the honey, he says.

DNA studies of the pollen in honey is expensive and difficult, Bryant says. Isotopic studies can reveal the source, provided you have a database of isotope signatures, which for now are very limited, he adds.

"We've never had 'truth in labeling' for selling honey, and we should," he says. "And the U.S. needs to make it illegal to import honey that has been filtered to remove the pollen, which makes it almost impossible to detect where it came from."

Bryant has been a professor of either biology or anthropology at Texas A&M since 1971. He holds degrees in geography, anthropology and botany. Such variety has enabled him to address many topics – ranging from charting paleoenvironments and ancient human diets to his current emphasis on forensics and honey research.

John Thomas, who was an entomologist with the Texas A&M Extension Service from 1957 to 1992 and is a beekeeper and a major donor to the new Texas Honey Bee Facility at Texas A&M, says he is grateful for Bryant's work.

"We have fought with the Chinese importers because honey is not a primary export there; it is just a byproduct they get from these other products they produce for medicinal purposes," Thomas says. "This system the A&M anthropologists have devised is a mechanism to trace the origins of the honey through the pollens. Unfortunately, it doesn't solve the problem."

About research at Texas A&M University: As one of the world's leading research institutions, Texas A&M is in the vanguard in making significant contributions to the storehouse of knowledge, including that of science and technology. Research conducted at Texas A&M represents an annual investment of more than $582 million, which ranks third nationally for universities without a medical school, and underwrites approximately 3,500 sponsored projects. That research creates new knowledge that provides basic, fundamental and applied contributions resulting in many cases in economic benefits to the state, nation and world.

Contact: Kelli Levey, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4645 or klevey@tamu.edu or Vaughn Bryant at (979) 845-5255 or vbryant@neo.tamu.edu. For more news about Texas A&M University, go to http://tamunews.tamu.edu. Follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/tamutalk.

Kelli Levey | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.tamu.edu

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Energy crop production on conservation lands may not boost greenhouse gases
13.03.2017 | Penn State

nachricht How nature creates forest diversity
07.03.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

OLED production facility from a single source

29.03.2017 | Trade Fair News

Transport of molecular motors into cilia

28.03.2017 | Life Sciences

A novel hybrid UAV that may change the way people operate drones

28.03.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>