Seedless grape rumors hurt farmers

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Hearsay alleging seedless grapes are produced with contraceptive drugs has hit a cultivation center hard in the eastern Chinese city of Yantai of Shandong Province.

Seedless grapes at Milukuang village in Shandong Province experience dull sales. (Photo/

Seedless grapes at Milukuang village in Shandong Province experience dull sales. (Photo/

In a video, a grape seller was heard saying that all grapes without seeds are the result of contraceptive drugs, making the fruit harmful to children and possibly causing sterilization.

Farmers in the city's Milukuang village, which grows 66 heaters of grapes, said the local fruit purchasing station sold 15,000 kilograms of grapes every day in the past but now sells only one-tenth of that after the 40-second video went viral.

Prices for grapes also decreased sharply, from around 9 yuan per kilogram to less than 6 yuan. It's estimated that the rumor would cut a household's average income by half.

Jiang Kequn, director of the village's agricultural cooperative, said seedless grapes were developed in recent years through the use of gibberellin, which regulates growth and has nothing to do with contraceptive drugs.

Some farmers suspect competitors growing seeded-grapes intentionally made up the story.

Tang Meiling, a grape expert at the Yantai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said the plant growth regulator gibberellin used to cultivate seedless grapes is harmless and universally applied across the world.

The expert added that if contraceptive drugs were sprayed on grapes they would in no way regulate growth or eliminate seeds.

On their official Weibo accounts, People's Daily and other media outlets across China have also called on people not to believe the rumor.

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