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Survey: Food safety rumors have significant social impact

(People's Daily Online)

08:23, June 21, 2012

Edited and translated by People's Daily Online

A rumor that said "watermelons have been injected with sodium cyclamate and carmine food addictive to increase the sweet taste" has recently been spread on the Internet. Although it has been proved to be untrue, the rumor is still widespread.

In recent years, some rumors about food safety frequently appear in our society, which has led to a public crisis. Why are these rumors so rampant? A survey recently conducted by the China Youth Daily Social Investigation Center shows that 50 percent said that many rumors about the food exist in our society. Among 6,900 respondents, 39 percent was born in the 1970s, 24 percent was born in the 1960s and 22 percent was born in the 1980s.

Why would 73 percent of respondents choose to believe these rumors?

Both Guo Xin, a Beijing resident, and his family like watermelons very much, but they no longer buy them since they have heard the rumor about watermelons. "A similar rumor had also appeared last year so we did not eat watermelons for more than a month," Guo said, "Although it is a rumor, it cannot be groundless. So I think it is more secure not to eat them in recent time."

"The Internet violence is so strong that a rumor can make an industry suffer a huge impact," said Ma Huiqin, associate professor of the College of Agriculture and Biotechnology under the China Agricultural University. As most ordinary people do not know much about some fields, they are more susceptible to the rumors.

In 2006, a rumor saying "watermelons of Hainan are injected the mercurochrome" had made the local farmers suffered a loss of 30 million yuan. In 2011, the news that banana trees were infected by a disease had been misunderstood as "eating banana can cause cancer." Therefore, the price of bananas declined to 0.2 yuan per kilogram but there were still no customers. According to statistics, the banana farmers of Guangdong and Hainan had suffered a loss of at least 700 million yuan.

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