The fact that China has melons exploding in their fields might sound cool but it’s really, really not.
The culprit causing the explosions seems to be a growth accelerator chemical called forchlorfenuron, which is applied during post bloom to improve fruit size and weight. Apparently it was applied too late in the season and caused acres and acres of melons to burst. Scary huh?
Even more scary is that it’s approved for use in the US, too- on grapes, raisins and kiwis. Its EPA pesticide fact sheet indicates it is moderately toxic to freshwater fish and side effects from animal studies revealed decreased birth weight and increased mortality.
So, yet another reason to eat local and organic. Also, forchlorfenuron makes melons large and brightly colored on the outside, but it also tends to make them virtually tasteless since it speeds up the growing process. A sad excuse for what should be a juicy, flavorful fruit!
Check out this article for more details on growth accelerator chemicals.