April 20, 2007 / 6:29 AM / 10 years ago

Chinese poplar trees to undergo "sex change"

2 Min Read

<p>People drive horse-driven carts along a highway with poplar trees, April 9, 2007. Beijing's female poplars are to receive "sex change operations" to stop them from producing flying pollen that has overwhelmed the city and worsened allergy and asthma problems among its citizens, Chinese media reported on Friday.Fayaz Kabli</p>

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing's female poplars are to receive "sex change operations" to stop them from producing flying pollen that has overwhelmed the city and worsened allergy and asthma problems among its citizens, Chinese media reported on Friday.

Arborists in China's capital, home to more than 300,000 poplar trees, were starting to inject some "female" trees in an experiment to change their nature so no pollen would be produced, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

"The poplar pollen affects the air quality of the city, and harms human health, so the city authorities must do something to deal with it," the report quoted a gardening expert as saying.

Hospitals in Beijing have received increasing numbers of patients who suffer from asthma or allergies after inhaling the pollen, which blankets the city in a snowfall of white fluff, reports said.

It would not be China's first attempt to alter nature.

The parched country also routinely seeds clouds to create rainfall, and state media announced earlier this week that meteorologists had created artificial snow in Tibet for the first time amid concerns about melting glaciers.

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