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China: Exploding Watermelon Is Safe?

A few months ago, local state media exposed that farmers in China's Jiangsu province were affected by the problem of “exploding watermelons” due to the overuse of chemicals. On 5 July, 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture asserted [zh] that the chemical growth enhancer for watermelon is safe as the toxic residue level is low.

The Ministry also stated that if growth chemicals banned in China, the whole agricultural industry sector would be affected.

Exploding watermelons found in Eastern China

According to Hutong news summary [zh], the watermelons were exploding in the fields like balloons. The growth enhancer involved in the incident is Forchlorfenuron, which is also legal in the United States. As the growth enhancer drains fruit of its flavor, farmers have also been applying chemical sweeteners and dyes to the watermelons.

Don't blame the watermelons, according to the Ministry of Agriculture

Don't blame the watermelons, according to the Ministry of Agriculture

Here is Caijing's report summary at Weibo [zh]:

【农业部:西瓜膨大剂毒性残留量低很安全】7月5日,农业部农药检定所相关负责人对我国个别地方出现的“膨大剂西瓜炸裂事件”作出正式回应,称植物生长调节剂的毒性和残留量非常低,只要按照批准使用方法使用,不会出现安全事故。如果不使用植物生长调节剂,农业生产就会出问题。http://t.cn/apCbAA

[Ministry of Agriculture: Toxic level of watermelon growth enhancer is low and safe] July 5, the official from the Ministry of Agriculture has given official responses to the “watermelon growth enhancer incident”. It is stated that the toxic level residue of growth enhancer remains at a very low level. If the farmers apply the enhancer according to the dosage, there wouldn't be any food security problems. If growth enhancer is banned, the whole agricultural sector will have problems. Detailed report: http://t.cn/apCbAA [zh]

The public statement made by the Ministry of Agriculture has not restored consumers’ confidence. Instead, netizens are skeptical of the lack of regulation in the application of additives to watermelons.

Plastic watermelon

The latest scandal is the discovery of plastic material inside a watermelon in Jinan city. Below is a television news segment showing what a plastic watermelon looks like:

In addition, netizens have read between the lines of the statement made by the Ministry of Agriculture and are criticizing for being irresponsible. Below is a selected translation of comments from Sina Weibo's news thread [zh]:

焦然blog 你农业部只考虑你的农业生产了,别的不管了?还真是各司其职,希望你说的“安全”食品别都吃到你自己嘴里,最后蹬腿之前,宁可说是憋死的也别说是毒死的~ (7月6日 13:53)

@焦然blog: the agricultural ministry is only concerned about agricultural production and doesn't care about other problems. This is very bureaucratic. The “safe” food under your definition would eventually enter your mouth. When you stretch your legs [meaning die], you would say you suffocate yourself rather than being poisoned to death. (July 6 13:53)

@DQ肥龙 我们的ZF越来越…从字面意思理解,毒性肯定有,只不过是多少的问题;发新闻的目的不是为了处理事件,而是为了稳定生产;农业生产远比食品安全重要,一干人等不得以任何方式任何言论影响农业生产,钦此~~ (7月6日 13:48)

@DQ肥龙: Our government is so xxx. Take the statement literally, definitely there is toxicity, the issue at stake is the toxic level. The press conference is not to deal with the problem, but to stabilize production. The agricultural production has more importance that food security. No one shall undermine the agricultural production, that's all. (July 6 13:48)

林川-大脚八 我只想知道,我们每天吃的还有哪几种食物没有添加这剂那剂的?西瓜留一点土豆留一点猪肉留一点鱼虾留一点鸡鸭留一点,这些是不是都不会累加???(7月6日 12:37)

@林川-大脚八: All I want to know is what else in our daily food does not have an additive? A little bit of it in watermelon, in potato, in pork, in fish and shrimp, in chicken and duck, won't they accumulate in our body?

人民视点 植物生长调节剂不同于动物激素,莫恐慌。但现有管理制度不能保证不滥用,这是个问题。(7月6日 11:28)

@人民视点: Vegetable growth enhancer is different from animal hormones. There is no need to panic. However, there is no way for the authority to guarantee that the farmers are not abusive in their dosage. This is the real problem. (July 6 11:28)

苏格拉秀 不用农业生产就会出问题啊?这个比阳光和水还重要吗?农业部去shi吧!!还我们天然绿色的农产品!(7月6日11:20)

@苏格拉秀: Without growth enhancer the agriculture production would face problems? So growth enhancer is more important that sunshine and water? Go to hell Ministry of Agriculture!! Give us back green agricultural products! (July 6 11:20)

gloria98 专家以及相关负责人说的话,现在已经没人相信了……(7月6日 11:03)

@gloria98: No one believes in officials and experts anymore… (July 6 11:03)

小武yeah 转发此微博:现在国人都已炼成金刚不坏之身,吃啥都无所谓啦,领导请放心!(7月6日10:21)

@小武yeah: repost this microblog: Every Chinese has a steel body now. They can eat anything, the leaders do not need to be worried! (July 6 10:21)

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