China farmers feed slandered bananas to pigs

Updated: 2007-06-13 18:44

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 said.

"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 2003.

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 countries.

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