In my experience the only watermelons that ever exploded were the melons that I hoisted off my high school roof during lunch hour. The Associated Press, however, recently ran a major story about watermelons exploding in China.

Maybe you’ve seen the story. According to the AP, 20 different farms in Jiangsu province experienced the exploding melons after giving the fruit a growth hormone called forchlorfenuron. I know what you, the average non-journalist, are thinking.

“Why in blazes can’t scientists come up with a name people can actually say and remember?”

The reason is that scientists, as highly trained experts who rely on government subsidies for their living, hope no one ever learns what they are actually doing.

As a highly semi-trained journalist, I have a different viewpoint, and as soon as I clean my desk and find my notes, I’ll tell you what it is. Until then, all I can say is this fad of exploding fruit is a little worrisome.

After all, America has enough to worry about without having to consider the terrifying prospect of Danger Fruit. Imagine, for a moment, truckloads of exploding fruit being shipped all over the United States to be stocked in major supermarkets, where they lurk, unbeknownst to shoppers everywhere.

These Water Melon Destructive Devices (or WM double Ds) could strike anywhere at anytime. More worrying, the explosive fruit trend may not be limited to melons. In the U.S., forchlorfenuron is legal to use on grapes and kiwi fruit, two fruit that are easily transportable and highly aerodynamic.

As a youth I spent many hours launching grapes at my younger brothers with a slingshot. Not only are grapes highly accurate, they make a very satisfying “splat” upon impact.

The effective range of a kiwi, provided you have a good arm, is about 30 to 50 yards if you’re counting on accuracy. An exploding kiwi could extend that range to beyond 80 yards.

Weaponizing food may seem a bit far-fetched to average citizens, but food being used as martial paraphernalia is not new. Indian officials have been working on weaponizing the Ghost chili pepper for use in counter-terrorist raids.

Food could be only the tip of the iceberg, to use a chilling phrase. A German man, Sven Koppler, was recently arrested for smuggling spiders into the U.S. There was no mention whether the spiders exploded or not. However, the AP story listed Koppler as “one of the three largest spider smugglers in the world.”

There are at least two other major spider smugglers still out there. But wait, there’s more. The Italian Space Agency recently launched “water bears” into space. According to scientists “water bears” or “tardigrades” as they are known, are microscopic animals that can survive nearly anything except being put into a microscope slide.

I’ve seen enough sci-fi movies to know that sending any weird animal into space, especially one with a cool name like “water bear,” is a recipe for trouble. It certainly sheds new light on an April shower that pelted Scottish school children at Galashiels Academy with worms.

According to The Daily Record, P.E. teacher David Crichton was teaching a class on the school’s soccer field when worms began raining from the sky. Conspiracy crackpots have said the secret, government HAARP facility in Alaska may be responsible, but that’s just nuts.

You might be tempted to think that these worrisome trends are distant, isolated events that don’t affect you personally. I thought that too, until this morning.

As I drove to the office, I took a shortcut on a gravel road near Hermiston. As I dipped into a little ravine, I saw six badgers in the road. They appeared to be jogging along in formation. No kidding.

The Wikipedia entry on American badgers list the animal as solitary and highly aggressive. So far there is no recognized term for a groupd of badgers. I propose “trouble” as in, “Ol’ Billy Joe run into a trouble of badgers. Thet’s why he don’t have both legs.” A maim of badgers would be appropriate too, and the good thing is, either term could be used for any group of badgers larger than zero.

Whatever the cause of these disturbing incidents, I know that I’ll be keeping a close eye on any fruit baskets that arrive in the mail. After all, I don’t want to cause a panic, but these are things that definitely need keeping an eye on. If you have any information on these troubling events, please let me know. Email lhegdal@hermistonherald.com.

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