Exploding Watermelons Remind Us it’s Not the Time to Expand Chinese Imports
The Associated Press reported that approximately 20 farmers in Jiangsu province have witnessed 115 acres of watermelons exploding like land mines, thanks in part to their overuse of a growth accelerator called forchlorfenuron, which caused the fruit to burst. Back in the United States, 80’s comedian Gallagher might be worried about losing his job.
China Central Television said the farmers were all first-time users of forchlorfenuron, which is legal in China and even used on grapes and kiwis in the U.S. While the report suggests that the farmers didn’t use the chemical correctly, the situation highlights a growing concern for Americans: China’s frequent misuse of chemicals — both legal and illegal — in food that might be exported to the U.S. thanks to free trade deals.
Recently, there’s been a renewed push to allow Chinese chicken to come to the U.S. Until last year, Congress had banned Chinese chicken imports. Unfortunately, agriculture giants like Smithfield, Tyson and Cargill lobbied to lift the ban, and now the USDA is considering rules to allow poultry from China into the U.S. These companies want to process poultry in China because costs are lower there (as are food safety standards), and then they can import the chicken back here to sell it for a hefty profit. It might save the corporations money, but it’s no bargain for consumers. Worse yet, China is still dealing with H5N1 avian flu in their bird population.
Exploding watermelons are just another reminder that it is not the time to expand the list of Chinese food products allowed into the United States.
Let the USDA know that consumers don’t want more unsafe food products, and that we should not import poultry from any country that has avian flu outbreaks, especially China.