Chinese Baffled By Exploding Melons

In Asia, News Headlines

A number of farmers in eastern China have been left baffled by a series of exploding watermelons

Farms in the Jiangsu province have lost acres of fruit after their watermelons began to detonate one by one, seemingly for no reason.

One report by China Central Television has blamed it on the overuse of a chemical that helps fruit grow faster.

Agricultural experts said that the melons were sprayed with excessive quantities of ‘forchlorfenuron’ – a legal additive that is also used in the United States.

Farmers had reportedly been overusing the growth accelerator to try and boost profits by getting the fruit to market early, something which evidently went spectacularly wrong.

Liu Mingsuo, a farmer from the eastern province of Jiangsu, told China’s state broadcaster that he couldn’t sleep because he kept picturing his precious melons exploding in his field like “landmines”.

“On May 7, I came out and counted 80 [bursting watermelons] but by the afternoon it was 100,” Mr Liu told CCTV, referring to the three acres of his melons that had exploded.

“Two days later I didn’t bother to count anymore.”

About 20 farmers and 45 hectares around the city of Danyang have been affected, according to the Xinhua news agency. Because the fruit could not be sold it was instead fed to fish and pigs.

China is battling rampant misuse of pesticides, fertilisers and food additives, such as dyes and sweeteners, meant to make food more attractive and increase sales.

The government is increasingly anxious about food safety issues after a string of scandals that include melamine-tainted milk, meat that ‘glows in the dark’, steroid-laced pork and poisonous beansprouts.

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