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Invasive snails threaten area’s rice crop; pose danger if eaten

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Snails are destroying rice crops around Chaungzon Township in Mon State, and the government must come to the aid of the area, according to an MP who will put forward a motion in the Mon State Assembly urging the government to come to the farmers’ rescue and also to warn people not to eat the snails, which are dangerous to health.
Invasive snails have attacked crops around Chaungzon Township in Mon State, and if eaten they can harm a person's health.  Photo: MizzimaMon State MP Dr. Aung Naing Oo of the All Mon Region Democracy Party told Mizzima said that he had compiled a list of paddy fields destroyed by the snails and the results of lab test by the government.
Starting in late September, Aung Naing Oo along with Mon State Advocate-General Win Kyi, Township Administrative Chief Soe Myint and officials from the agricultural department held educational talks in the area, urging residents in affected villages not to eat the snails.
Authorities in September sent the snails and snails’ eggs to the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department to test whether the snails could be eaten or not.
Lab results found the snails host a parasitic worm and should not be eaten; the snails contain 42 per cent protein and 0.9 per cent of fat. Their eggs contain 21.7 per cent protein.
Because the snails have Angiostrongylus worms, they can cause a disease that can lower white blood cells, produce fatal brain swelling and cause nerve damage. The protein contained in the snails can also harm the digestive system, the state-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported on October 13.
Since July, the snails have attacked fields in the Salween riverside villages of Kawmupon, Kalwi, Kanyaw, Boenak, Daungyak, Thakaw and Natmhaw. Some farmers tried to combat the snails by paying workers 3,000 kyat (about US$ 3.50) per 1.125 bushel. However, more than 100 acres of paddy fields were reportedly spoiled.
An assistant professor of botany at Rangoon University said in the weekly The Voice Journal on August 29 that the snail was the “Golden Apple Snail.” It is similar to regular Burmese farm snails and should not be eaten. 

According to farmers, the reddish snails are bigger than Burmese farm snails; the weight of a snail is about 0.4 kg and their eggs are a light pink.
Aung Naing Oo said, “There were snails in the paddy fields last year, too, but just a few. This year, the number of the snails increased three or four times over last year. If the number of snails increases four times next year, that will be a disaster for farmers, and they will starve.”
Despite educating residents in Chaungzon Township to not eat the snails, there are many people eating, selling and buying the snails in Mawlamyaing, Aung Naing Oo said.

The golden apple snail, popularly known as "golden kuhol'' [Pomacea canaliculata Lamarck], is one of the major pest problems in rice production. In 1989, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimated that yield losses owing to this pest ranged from 1% to 40% of the planted area in the Philippines, resulting in huge production loss.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 18 October 2011 21:40 )  

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