Have you heard the latest news – the officials have reported that watermelons in a small town in eastern China have been bursting open, covering the fields after farmers gave them an overdose of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what’s been called “fields of land mines.” The farmers were hoping that they will make their watermelons much bigger and more profitable. So, what they did? Well, the farmers used a growth accelerator known as forchlorfenuron.
According to the reports, more than 20 farmers around Danyang city in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres of watermelons. Now, let me ask you a simple question – do you know what is Forchlorfenuron? Well, according to the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), forchlorfenuron is a cytokine which improves fruit size, fruit set, cluster weight and cold storage in grapes in kiwifruits.
The famous professor, Wang Liangju, at the College of Horticulture at Nanjing Agricultural University who was in Danyang when the problems began to occur, thinks that the chemical is safe when used properly. So, professor Wang Liangju told The Associated Press that the drug had been used too late in the season when heavy rain activity raised the risk of the fruit exploding.
Professor Wang Liangju also thinks that the variety of melon played a role. He said that if the compound had been used on very young fruit, it wouldn’t be a problem. He also mentioned that another good reason for the problem is that the melon they were planting is a thin-rind variety and these kind are actually nicknamed the ‘exploding melon’ because they tend to split.
Note: well, the bad thing is that the Chinese regulations don’t forbid the use of the drug, and it’s allowed in the United States on kiwi fruit and grapes. And you should also know that it’s been reported that many farmers in China are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals, with many farms misusing pesticides and fertilizers.
IS IT SAFE?
According to an EPA pesticide fact sheet, forchlorfenuron is not necessarily harmless. It reports:
- It has moderate toxicity to freshwater fish
- It has slightly higher toxicity levels in the avian population
- Increased pup mortality and decreased litter sizes in rat studies
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR FRUIT WAS GROWN WITH HORMONES OR PESTICIDES
The Environmental Working Group has reported that almost 2/3 of the 3,015 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 contained pesticide residues, with a total of 165 different pesticides on thousands of fruit and vegetable samples.
The produce that tested highest for pesticide residues included:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Snap peas
The produce least likely to contain pesticide residue included:
- Sweet corn
- Frozen sweet peas
- Sweet potatoes
You should know that a good and common sign that a fruit or vegetable wasn’t grown completely naturally is lack of flavor. These artificial growth enhancers, such as florchlorfenuron stimulate cell division to make the product grow faster, it also drains it of flavor. And the bad thing is that florchlorfenuron isn’t the only growth hormone being used in produce. A hormone known as oxytocin has been known for its use in fruits and vegetables in India. The officials have banned this drug for public sale in India, but it is widely available from fertilizer and pesticide vendors.
Other famous growth promoting agents used in produce include ethylene, which may contain traces of arsenic, and calcium carbide, which is believed to cause a whole slew of health problems. Well, this means that if you want to reduce your exposure to pesticides and chemicals, you should buy organic food, especially for the foods that contain the highest levels of pesticides. Note: it doesn’t matter if you buy organic or conventional, you should still take steps to reduce contamination by washing your produce thoroughly and peeling it if needed. We really hope you find this article helpful and don’t forget to share it with your friends and family. Thank You.