Ethephon is an important synthetically produced fruit ripening chemical. This chemical is dissolved in water and sprayed on the fruit. While dissolving in water it produces ethylene, the gaseous natural hormone which promotes quick and uniform ripening of fruit.
In nature the ethylene is produced in fruits at maturity which promotes the fruit ripening but the natural fruit ripening is mostly non uniform which makes the fruit ripe at varying stages due to which the yield and quality of fruit is affected, and which in turn affects the economy of fruit growers.
To induce uniform ripening of the fruit this synthetically produced Ethephon was made available in the market by scientists, and this chemical is commonly in use from decades and fruit farmers throughout the world are happy with the chemical.
This chemical is also commonly used in Kashmir Valley, mostly as a colouring agent.
But from the past decade the Ethephon sales are mostly restricted by the government officials, because of some health concern due to which the chemical is not sold openly in the market. The restricted sale is a growing headache for the apple growers of the valley because they use this chemical for producing redcolour apples, which fetches them a good market price.
As per the health toxicity of is concerned the sprayed Ethephon is not much toxic that it should be banned, but for the organic fruit buyers this is not an option.There is not any concrete evidence of its health toxicity yet, no carcinogenicity has been proved in animal trials as reported by Cornell University but there may be some non-serious issues with the ethylene allergic people.
I think the chemical must be allowed without any restriction in the market and there should be no ban on selling and using the chemical for horticulture purposes. This chemical is commonly available in the apple producing developed countries.
The Ethephon is sold with different trade names in the Kashmir but the chemical composition in all is same which include Ethephon 39%.
Dr Willayat Bashir (Ph.D)
Contractual Lecturer Chemistry
GDC, Sumbal, Sonawari
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