Land mines. killer fruit. A sudden Chinese taste for the old American South, except in China, you could call it agronomy gone wild with an experimentation of legal and illegal growth chemicals producing Frankenstein or zombie watermelon. Although China has been scapegoated by the West over food practices and somewhat disingenuously linking this to human rights abuses in vague but generalized smear campaign against new varieties of the older “yellow peril” ,it does underscore the role of technology and market economics in creating these situations, of which the West seems able to manage better; they condemn but may be engaging in similar practices with better more sophisticated toys. Its also a PR campaign against small scale farming with the implication that only companies like Monsanto can be trusted to exploit the soil in the best interests of food quality-see The World According to Monsanto by Marie-Monique Robin.
Watermelons have been bursting by the score in eastern China after farmers gave them overdoses of growth chemicals during wet weather, creating what state media called fields of “land mines.”About 20 farmers around Danyang city in Jiangsu province were affected, losing up to 115 acres (45 hectares) of melon, China Central Television said in an investigative report….
The government also has voiced alarm over the widespread overuse of food additives like dyes and sweeteners that retailers hope will make food more attractive and boost sales. Though Chinese media remain under strict government control, domestic coverage of food safety scandals has become more aggressive in recent months, an apparent sign that the government has realized it needs help policing the troubled food industry….
The CCTV report on watermelons quoted Feng Shuangqing, a professor at the China Agricultural University, as saying the problem showed that China needs to clarify its farm chemical standards and supervision to protect consumer health.The broadcaster described the watermelons as “land mines” and said they were exploding by the acre (hectare) in the Danyang area.Many of farmers resorted to chopping up the fruit and feeding it to fish and pigs, the report said. Read More:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/17/exploding-watermelons-chinese-farmers_n_862947.html
Prices over the past year prompted many farmers to jump into the watermelon market. All of those with exploding melons apparently were first-time users of the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron, though it has been widely available for some time, CCTV said….
Chinese regulations don’
rbid the drug, and it is allowed in the U.S. on kiwi fruit and grapes. But the report underscores how farmers in China are abusing both legal and illegal chemicals, with many farms misusing pesticides and fertilizers. Read More:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/17/exploding-watermelons-chinese-farmers_n_862947.html
Back in the 1920′s and 30′s, almost all of the Frankfurt School protested, like Martin Heidegger, against transforming “techne” into modern technology with its disasters. According to Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno technology had not taken control of nature but even of man. Enlightenment’s ruinous tendency even led to the destruction of speculative thought, and to its incorporation within the teleological orientation. Benjamin tried to present this theme in The Work of Art in the Age of Technological Reproduction. He concluded this essay in saying: “Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian Gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order”. Also, Max Horkeimer asserted there are certain tendencies which reach their peak in the advanced technological society: technological progress is a display of pure power, and it is involved in the elimination of all the dimensions of “spirit” which do not assist directly the intensification of technological power. He saw a correspondence of progress with the oppression of nature….
Jonathan Watts:In the past week, the People’s Daily website has run stories of human birth control chemicals being used on cucumber plants in Xian, China Daily has reported Sichuan peppers releasing red dye in water, and the Sina news portal revealed that barite powder had been injected into chickens in Guizhou to increase their weight.
More alarming still was a study by researchers at Nanjing Agricultural University that estimated a tenth of China’s rice may be tainted with the cadmium, a heavy metal that can affect the nervous system. This caused a stir when it was published earlier this year in the pioneering Caixin magazine.Read More:http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/17/exploding-watermelons-chinese-farming
Have you heard the slick rhetoric of the latest corporate makeover campaign? “Producing more. Conserving more. Improving farmers’ lives. That’s sustainable agriculture. And that’s what Monsanto is all about.” The peddler of such deadly toxins as Agent Orange and PCBs is now working overtime to cleanup its public image. And, with millions in its coffers for its latest PR campaign, Monsanto’s greenwashing is reaching far and wide.
One of those caught up in this campaign is National Public Radio. To clarify, as NPR did on its website after receiving a barrage of criticism, Monsanto is not giving money directly to NPR but to American Public Media, which produces Marketplace, a program that runs on many NPR stations. “Marketplace is supported by Monsanto, committed to sustainable agriculture: creating hybrid and biotech seeds designed to increase crop yields and conserve natural resources. Produce more conserve more dot com.” Do people distinguish between APM and NPR when they are providing content to the same local public radio station? No, not really – and that slippery “feel good” association is what Monsanto is banking on to spread its message. Read More:http://www.foodfirst.org/en/node/3417