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China's 'disturbing' exploding watermelons
Rookie farmers slather crops with growth chemicals — inadvertently turning harmless melons into "land mines"
A Chinese farmer shows off his exploded watermelons, the unhappy result of an overdose of growth chemicals.
A Chinese farmer shows off his exploded watermelons, the unhappy result of an overdose of growth chemicals.
Imaginechina/CORBIS
T

he video: Watermelons have been bursting across fields in eastern China, prompting the state media to refer to the volatile fruits as "land mines." (View a news report below.) The explanation? Overdoses of growth chemicals, applied by inexperienced melon farmers too eager to cash in on watermelons' soaring prices. The newcomers made two mistakes: 1) Applying the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron too late in the season; 2) Planting a variety of fruit that's already known as "exploding melon" due its unusually thin rind. Heavy rains sealed the fruits' fate, infusing them with moisture that's causing many to burst.

The reaction: The image of exploding watermelons would be funny, says Shannon M. at Care2, if it weren't for the "disturbing undertone of the abuse of growth chemical and pesticides in the food industry — and China is a particularly pernicious offender." Yes, this is scary, says Carolynn Wheeler at the Toronto Globe and Mail, especially after reports that the Chinese are treating pork with steroids and adding industrial chemicals to milk. On the bright side, at least we're hearing about it, which suggests the government is trying to get the word out about "its ongoing struggle to keep the country’s food supply safe." Watch an AP report on these strange fruit bombs:

 

 

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