Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Exploding Watermelons

This sounds like something I'd see in a comic or a video game, but it really happened.  In China, farmers applied a chemical called forchlorfenuron, which is a growth accelerator, to their watermelons.  The melons ended up exploding.  Forchlorfenuron can increase a crop's growth time by up to 2 weeks and can make them bigger, bringing a higher price when it comes time to sell.  It doesn't work so well with watermelons though, judging from what happened here.

This should be looked upon as tying in to population growth and the constant pressure to increase food output.  I know that the main concern from many reading this article would be "is this safe to eat"*, but it's deeper than that.  Byproducts of oil (which is what fertilizer is, and I'm sure this chemical was, at least on some level) are being used to expand food production as the population continues to increase.  As oil becomes more expensive and scarce, tricks and shortcuts such as this one designed to grow more food will become tougher and tougher to implement.

* Although, this is a legitimate and fair question.  The article also states that many farmers in China (and I'm presuming, many other places) grow their own food seperately from their chemical brethren.  

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