The Chemistry of Watermelon

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  1. theexpertisin commented on Jul 11

    Gallagher and his exploding watermelons warrant a thought.

  2. Marcus commented on Jul 12

    Barry it’s great that you put a little chemistry into the blog – the chemistry of a watermelon. Here is some food for thought.

    Licopene the coloring in watermelon won’t hurt you. The aldehydes mentioned promote aging. But what about those exploding melons?

    These are mutant melons made to grow big and quick so the farmer can make more money. The miracle chemical that pushes growth has a common name Forchlorfenuron but in my world it is called 1-(2-chloropyridin-4-yl)-3-phenylurea.

    Don’t be afraid of the big name, be afraid of Forchlorfenuron, be very afraid.

    Every active chemical sold has a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). The MSDS tells you what to look out for. The MSDS for Forchlorfenuron is very interesting.

    Carcinogenicity (Category 2) Means it is probably cancer causing.

    Aquatic toxicity (Category 2) means it is toxic to species that live in water. Chronic release to the environment should be avoided.

    Genotoxicity in vitro is positive (it screws up as yet unborn humans in terrible ways).

    Use personal protective equipment handing Forchlorfenuron.

    Handle with gloves. Gloves must be inspected prior to use.

    Body Protection – Complete body suit protection against chemicals required.

    Inhalation – May be harmful if inhaled. May cause respiratory tract irritation.

    Ingestion – Harmful if swallowed.

    Skin – May be harmful if absorbed through skin. May cause skin irritation.

    Eyes – May cause eye irritation

    Rodent LD50 1.6 – 2.8 mg/Kg. Translated this means that half of 220 pound men (if they have the body chemistry of a rat) will die if they eat a half teaspoon of this stuff.

    All of which begs the question, how much Forchlorfenuron and similar joys are being put into U.S. foods? What is the combined effect of these toxins on humans who are trying to eat a healthy diet, choosing melon instead of cake?

    So if you see an exploding melon, run like hell the other way. That’s a clue it’s not safe.

  3. RW commented on Jul 12

    Interesting: The Chinese might have had better luck stimulating kinetins rather than auxins (which have more to do with cell turgor pressure and size rather than cell division).

    A note on the physics of melons that I learned from a fellow desert rat: Cut in half during the heat of the day and, before long*, condensation will chill the melon very nicely.

    *not too bloody long though or it will just dry out.

    • RW commented on Jul 12

      Ach! Meant evaporation; condensation occurs after its cooled a bit.

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