Exploding Watermelons! Bt in Your Bloodstream! This Week in Horrifying Ag News


Oh, the fun just never stops!  First, this just in from China–overuse of a growth chemical called forchlorfenuron causes watermelons to explode in the fields.  Which is a bummer for the farmers, but also brings up a larger question:  if they're applying too much of this stuff, and using it at the wrong time, what else are they applying too much of?


And another story not getting nearly enough attention:  You know that Bt toxin engineered into GMO corn? The one that's not supposed to bother humans because it gets killed off in our digestive tracts?

Guess what? Not so much.  A new study coming out in the journal Reproductive Toxicology found that–whoa!  Of 39 pregnant and 30 non-pregnant women tested, most of them had the toxin in their bloodstream, as did their fetuses.  Read all about it here.

But that's probably okay, right?  So what if the toxin's in the bloodstream?  Who's to say it's doing any harm? Maybe it's just–you know–hanging out, minding its own business…


Uh–enjoy your lunch, everybody.


  1. Spinning that Bt news as anti-GMO is ridiculous. Bt is a very widely used ORGANIC insecticide. If you are worried about consuming Bt, you’d best avoid organic produce. This underscores the fact that all chemicals — organic or synthetic — are complex, and our interactions with them need to be continually evaluated.

  2. I think it’s funny that every radio station on our presets, from NPR to Teeny bopper pop, has covered the exploding watermelon story, complete with the phrase “too much growth chemical.” What growth chemical is that, exactly?

  3. Susan–it is forchlorfenuron.

    Joseph, I think the issue here is that the Bt is not sprayed on the produce (where it could presumably break down or be washed off) but is part of the genetic makeup of the produce–it is genetically embedded in the food itself. The question is a reasonable one: what happens when we consume it in the form of produce, tortilla chips, meat that’s been fed GMO corn, etc?

  4. I am under the assumption that Bt is a natural neuro-toxin produces by a species related to marigold. I have always been suspicious of it although certified for use by my “organic” certifiers, along with copper fungicide (?!!) Just brings to question the authenicity of any certifying bodies, and what companies want which products “certified”. Just because something is “organic”, I’m not sure it it is grown how I would grow it.

  5. Thanks Amy! I was wondering what I was going to post about over on garden professors today! Linda already posted about the watermelons — I’ll post about the Bt.

  6. Rachelle ~ Bt is Bacillus thurigensis, a bacteria that gives caterpillars (among other insects) a fatal bellyache.

    Guess I will plant watermelons this year after all. One more thing I won’t be taking chances on the store-bought version …

    Corn is harder to avoid – it’s everywhere ! – and I do love chips & homemade salsa. But I don’t like the idea of bacteria I don’t need swimming through my system.

  7. You know, I’m getting so tired of hearing Monsanto’s line about how GMO stuff is oh, so safe and the answer to all society’s ills. As Col. Potter used to say on M*A*S*H, “Horse hockey!!” They don’t have any idea what GMO’s will do over time; no studies have been published. If studies have been done, my guess is that any unfavorable results have long been suppressed. We are being guinea-pigged on a scale never before seen in this country, and I for one am angry as hell about it. I did a research paper several years ago on GMO’s, and the long and short of it is that the FDA is solidly in Monsanto’s hip pocket. Some of the test results on recombinant bovine growth hormone alone were enough to make my hair stand on end. We don’t have any idea how many of our foods are contaminated, because no one has to tell us.

  8. If I hear Monsanto say something is safe, I don’t go near it–they don’t seem to have ever produced anything that doesn’t grossly pollute or misbehave or show other unforeseen consequences.

    I will not buy produce from south of the US border due to their pesticide laws being nowhere near as strict as our not-terribly-strict ones, save they be certified organic. Just don’t feel like taking my chances.

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