Exploding watermelons put spotlight on Chinese farming practices

31 May, 2011 at 10:35 | Posted in China, Environmental issues, Food | Leave a comment
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Jonathan Watts, Asia environment correspondent
The Guardian

New food scandal as fields of watermelons are destroyed after farmers mistakenly apply growth accelerator.

The flying pips, shattered shells and wet shrapnel still haunt farmer Liu Mingsuo after an effort to chemically boost his fruit crop went spectacularly wrong.

Fields of watermelons exploded when he and other agricultural workers in eastern China mistakenly applied forchlorfenuron, a growth accelerator. The incident has become a focus of a Chinese media drive to expose the lax farming practices, shortcuts and excessive use of fertiliser behind a rash of food safety scandals.

It follows discoveries of the heavy metal cadmium in rice, toxic melamine in milk, arsenic in soy sauce, bleach in mushrooms, and the detergent borax in pork, added to make it resemble beef.

Compared to such cases of dangerous contamination, Liu’s transgression was minor, but it has gained notoriety after being picked up by the state broadcaster, CCTV. The broadcaster blamed the bursting of the fruit on the legal chemical forchlorfenuron, which stimulates cell separation but often leaves melons misshapen and turns the seeds white.

Read more: Exploding watermelons put spotlight on Chinese farming practices | Environment | The Guardian

More info: Fields of Watermelon Explode in China Farm Fiasco

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