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Forchlorfenuron In Watermelon – Facts & Dangers

Forchlorfenuron In Watermelon – Facts & Dangers

Forchloefenuron is a cytokinin, that improves fruit set, fruit size, cold storage, and cluster weight in kiwifruits and grapes.

It is called “plant growth regulator,” that the US Environmental Protection Agency registered back in 2004.

Farmers claim that this chemical can bring the harvest forward by 14 days and increase the size of the fruit by more than 20 percent.

Forchlorfenuron and Watermelons

In the case of watermelons, those treated with this chemical are very large and brightly colored on the outside, however, the color of the flesh is more white than deep red.

Dangers

Some people who consume fruits containing forchlorfenuron may experience the following acute effects:

  • extreme weakness;
  • vomiting;
  • a runny nose;
  • loss of consciousness;
  • sneezing;
  • diarrhea;
  • itching;
  • hives;
  • nausea;
  • seizures;
  • a sore throat;
  • coughing;
  • swelling of the mouth, lips, and tongue.

Long-Term Effects

Infertility & Birth Defects

A regular exposure to this chemical may be the cause of low sperm levels and increased levels of infertility in men.

Also, you should avoid it if you are already pregnant since similar chemicals are responsible for causing numerous birth defects.

Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disorder that leads to progressive deterioration of motor function. Symptoms may include:

  • writing changes;
  • speech changes;
  • loss of automatic movements;
  • impaired posture and balance;
  • rigid muscles;
  • slowed movement (bradykinesia);
  • tremor.

Long-term exposure to this chemical has been associated with an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Cancer

A specialized type of cancer known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia is assumed to be directly linked to this chemical (or similar chemicals) exposure, according to a 2010 article published in Organic Consumers Association.

Also, there are positive associations between an exposure to this chemical and kidney, lung, brain, breast, ovarian, prostate, pancreatic, and stomach cancers, as per a 2007 study that was issued in Canadian Family Physician.

Endocrine Disorders

Some endocrine effects can be activated by very low concentrations of this chemical. They can manifest as:

  • thyroid tumors;
  • hyper and hypothyroidism;
  • neurological disorders, especially disorders in brain development;
  • pregnancy complications with early abortions;
  • uterus anomalies;
  • the appearance of cysts in the ovaries;
  • early puberty;
  • genital malformations;
  • reduced semen quality.

Note – children are more vulnerable to exposure to this chemical due to the fact that their nervous systems, organs, and immune system are still developing.

How to Recognize a Watermelon Grown With Forchlorfenuron

When this chemical is used (especially in high concentrations), it can cause hollow fruit, cracking, and deformities.

Another clear sign that a melon was grown using this chemical is the taste of the fruit. This happens because forchlorfenuron makes the melon grow faster, but the flavor is diluted.

Other Chemicals Used in Ripening of Vegetables & Fruits

#1 Oxytocin

It is usually injected in cows to produce more milk without considering the adverse negative effects caused to the animals.

Moreover, oxytocin is injected into the roots of the plants to produce bigger vegetables and fruits and a higher quantity. 

#2 Ethylene

It is typically produced in small quantities by most vegetables and fruits. But, it is also added and it affects the development, growth, senescence (aging), and ripening of all plants.

This chemical can promote ripening of tomatoes, citrus, pineapples, bananas, apples, melons, dates, pears, avocados, mangoes, and papayas.

#3 Calcium Carbide

It is a corrosive and harmful chemical as it contains traces of phosphorous hydride and arsenic.

Due to its low price and availability in the local market, calcium carbide is generally used for ripening of fruits.

When this chemical comes into contact with water, it produces acetylene gas which hastens the ripening of a few fruits, like – bananas, mangoes, and apples.

Symptoms and signs of calcium carbide poisoning include:

  • irritation in the mouth, nose, and throat;
  • ulcers on the skin;
  • permanent eye damage;
  • irritation or burning in the eyes;
  • difficulty in swallowing;
  • weakness;
  • increased thirst;
  • burning sensation of the chest and abdomen;
  • diarrhea with or without blood;
  • nausea;
  • vomiting.

#4 Ethephon

It is an organophosphate chemical which is commonly used to speed up the process of fruit ripening and flower induction.

This chemical is typically considered more effective in terms of taking less time than calcium carbide for ripening.

Ethephon is used in:

  • barley;
  • mangoes;
  • bananas;
  • olives;
  • macadamias;
  • tomatoes;
  • sugarcane;
  • stonefruit;
  • pineapples;
  • mandarins;
  • oranges;
  • grapes;
  • apples.

How to Avoid Chemicals in Your Food

An estimated 65 percent of the 3,015 produce samples tested by the United States Department of Agriculture in 2013 contained pesticides, according to a 2015 report by the Environmental Working Group.

According to this report, fruits and vegetables highest in pesticide loads were:

  • potatoes;
  • imported snap peas;
  • cherry tomatoes;
  • cucumbers;
  • sweet bell peppers;
  • spinach;
  • celery;
  • grapes;
  • strawberries;
  • nectarines;
  • peaches;
  • apples.

Here are a few methods  to avoid chemicals in your food:

#1 Washing Food Before Consuming

Even though many fruits and vegetables contain harmful substances inside, it is possible to clean at least those chemicals which are on the skin of a vegetable or a fruit.

In addition, washing them with 2 percent salt water will remove most of the contact pesticide residues which typically appear on the surface of the fruits and vegetables.

Another good alternative is baking soda, according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Note – do not use detergents, soap, or bleach to wash fruits and vegetables to remove pesticides due to the fact that they can contain compounds which aren’t safe to eat.

#2 Grow Your Fruits & Veggies

Growing your own foods means that you can use healthier and safer methods to control any pests.

Try growing spinach, apples, potatoes, garlic, onions, or tomatoes, to help reduce your exposure to pesticide residue.

#3 Buy Organic

Organic food has to be raised without any use of pesticides, GMOs, or any other harmful chemical. To identify fruits and vegetables grown organically, look at the little sticker – the number should be 5 digits and start with “9.”

#4 Purchase Food From Local Sources

Purchasing food from a local farm doesn’t guarantee that it’s free of pesticide residue, however, it can be significantly easier to find out the techniques they used to keep the fruits and vegetables free of pests.

Sources

https://apvma.gov.au/sites/default/files/publication/13791-prs-forchlorfenuron.pdf
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814613008881
http://pmep.cce.cornell.edu/profiles/extoxnet/dienochlor-glyphosate/ethephon-ext.html
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20141145

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