Business, Economics and Jobs

China: fields of watermelons bursting (VIDEO)

Watermelons are bursting in eastern China after farmers apparently gave them an overdose of growth chemicals.

A report by China Central Television found that the farmers with the exploding melons were all first-time users of the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron, the Associated Press reports.

It is the same drug used by American farmers on kiwi fruit and grapes.

The drug is legal in China, but the report found that farmers are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals.

Wang Liangju, a professor with College of Horticulture at Nanjing Agricultural University, told the Associated Press the drug is safe and effective when used correctly.

"If it had been used on very young fruit, it wouldn't be a problem," he said. "Another reason 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."

Heavy rainfall after a recent drought may have also affected the watermelons, according to a report in Bloomberg.

The watermelon explosions affected about 20 farmers around Danyang city in Jiangsu province. They reportedly lost up to 115 acres of melon.

The Chinese media have focused on the exploding watermelons as a chance to "expose the lax farming practices, shortcuts and excessive use of fertilizer behind a rash of food safety scandals" in China, the Guardian reports.

"It follows discoveries of the heavy metal cadmium in rice, toxic melamine in milk, arsenic in soy sauce, bleach in mushrooms, and the detergent borax in pork, added to make it resemble beef."