Banana growers in southern China have taken to feeding pigs their produce to
clear towering stockpiles after a string of rumours about SARS and cancer risks.
While the price of pork in China soared last month as a result of pig disease
and a spike in the price of feedcorn, the price of bananas at some markets on
the subtropical island of Hainan plunged to next to nothing, news portal
"Two rumours this year have caused direct losses of about 820 million yuan
($107.5 million), affecting 376,000 mu (24,000 hectares) of land and a million
people," the report quoted Meng Xuru, a local agricultural official, as saying.
Last month, China's Agriculture Ministry dismissed a rumour that bananas
might contain viruses similar to SARS, a flu-like disease that killed close to
800 people out of a known 8,000 infected before being brought under control in
Hainan bananas were also subject to rumours they caused cancer earlier this
year when the island's plantations suffered a fungus blight called yellow wilt,
or Panama disease.
The rumours came at a time of heightened scrutiny of Chinese food and drug
quality, following a spate of safety breaches in recent months, including toxins
in toothpaste shipped to Panama and other central American