Watermelon fields in eastern China are covered in exploded fruit. Farmers used growth chemicals to make their crops bigger, but ended up destroying them instead.
The farmers used the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron. Even the melons that survived tended to have fibrous, misshapen fruit with mostly white instead of black seeds.
“Chinese regulations don’t forbid use of the substance. It is also allowed in the United States for use on kiwi fruit and grapes … About 20 farmers and 115 acres of watermelon around Danyang were affected … Farmers resorted to chopping up the fruit and feeding it to fish and pigs”.
This may sound like a joke, but it’s real alright. Seems the use of a chemical growth accelerator, forchlorfenuron, has been implicated in the widespread “exploding melon” phenomena.
What is Forchlorfenuron?
Forchlorfenuron is a so-called “plant growth regulator,” registered with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2004 for use on grapes, raisins, and kiwis. According to the EPA Pesticide Fact sheet, the chemical is to be applied to the flowers and/or developing fruit during early post-bloom to improve fruit size, fruit set, cluster weight, and cold storage. The fact sheet explains that the chemical “acts synergistically with natural auxins to promote plant cell division and lateral growth.”
According to MSNBC, the Chinese farmers incorrectly applied forchlorfenuron to the fruit “during overly wet weather and… too late in the season, which made the melons burst.”
Indeed. Melons have been exploding by the acre.
Another article published on May 24 by The Epoch Times, specified that the seeds used were “quality watermelon seeds” imported from Japan. Of the 20 farmers in the affected Chinese province, 10 of them used these imported Japanese seeds. It’s unclear whether all of the farmers whose crops blew up had also used forchlorfenuron.
But ruptured melon-heads are not the most concerning aspect of this story. There’s also the question of consumer safety. Although no specific health hazards are mentioned in any of the articles covering this story, they do allude to the fact that there may be cause for health concerns.
Are Growth Promoting Chemicals Safe to Eat?