Beijing: A Chinese surgeon, who claimed to have grown vegetables in Antarctica while taking part in an official expedition to the South Pole, has been accused of violating Antarctic Treaty which prohibits introducing new animals and plants in the region.
State-run People's Daily, however, defended Wang Zheng, a doctor who was recruited to conduct scientific investigation in Antarctica, saying he had grown vegetables by applying soil-less culture technology, computer control and automatic irrigation at the Zhongshan research base.
Wang was quoted by official media earlier as saying that researchers in the Antarctica largely live on the food -mostly meat - imported to the region, and the vegetables, cultivated in a small greenhouse make up for the lack of fresh produce in their diet. However, some challenged Wang and said planting vegetables in Antarctica violates the Antarctic Treaty.
"A friend of mine who is an ecologist told me that planting vegetables in an Antarctic research base is against the alien species management rules set by the Antarctic Treaty," said Shoutuo, a science writer, via his Sina Weibo account on Friday. Appendix B of the Madrid Protocol of the Antarctic Treaty contains clear rules on the introduction of animals and plants to region, and says "domestic" plants can be brought to the region.
Under the Madrid Protocol, growing vegetables in Antarctica is legal, reported news portal guancha.cn. This is not the first time people grew vegetables in an Antarctic research base. On 24 February 2004, the US-based National Science Foundation announced the success of its Antarctic greenhouses in producing fresh produce for researchers.
Wang is an orthopaedic surgeon from Shangrao People's Hospital, who was invited to join the country's 31st Antarctic expedition, starting October 30, 2014. Wang finished his project and returned to Shanghai in January this year.