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China's "One Gerbil" Population Policy: Rodents on the Pill

Posted by: Frederik Balfour on March 27, 2009

It’s not as if China’s dry regions don’t already have enough trouble with drought. Water scarcity in the north and west of the country is a chronic problem, as is the increasing desertification of the countryside caused by global warming. But now, in notoriously dry Xinjiang province, authorities are battling a new scourge: gerbils which are the depleting supply of plants by nibbling away at their roots.

The solution? Let’s call it China’s “One Gerbil” policy.” Forestry officials are putting the rodents on the pill to prevent their population from exploding. The method involves scattering feed laced with a chemical that acts as both a contraceptive and an abortion device. Officials say it’s more humane than killing the gerbils out right and I applaud them. I recall my first visit to a market in Turpan, a stop along the ancient Silk Route through Xinjiang province in 1985 and being horrified at the sight of a dead rat displayed next to some other goods. At first I thought it was for sale, but then realized it was a form of crude advertising, a mute testament to the effectiveness of the rat poison on offer. I now wonder if urban rats will be the next group of mammals to be put on the pill.

Reader Comments


March 28, 2009 6:23 AM

I can think of a lot of rats who could be put on the pill at the Columbus Circle subway station in Manhattan.

Zack Ning

March 29, 2009 12:24 AM

One child policy in China has been implemented for near 30 years since 1979. I am a Chinese and I support this because I live in the heart land of China and I know how severe conditions we have to feed so many people with limited resources.


March 29, 2009 9:49 AM

Interesting story..


March 29, 2009 9:41 PM

Yes, but does it increase their bust size?

Richard Gere

March 30, 2009 4:40 PM

I'm mad as hell and I'm not taking this anymore! Damn Chinese! You srewed the Tibetans but you've crossed the line this. A "one-gerbil" policy is grestest act against humanity I can ever think of the history of the world. Does this, world, finally tell you the Chinese are evil. Free the Gerbils! And my azz doesn't count all you people who make jokes. It's not cruelty but now a sanctuary for persecuted gerbils fleeing Chinese oppression.


March 31, 2009 12:07 AM

I am a Chinese,I support one child policy in our country.


March 31, 2009 8:10 AM

Let the gerbils come to the US and apply for the political asylum and then the US can let the gerbils stays in the around NYC subway stations. Or better yet the US can provide them with H1B visa to allow them to work by procreating more gerbils....

Gerbils come to the US!

March 31, 2009 8:25 PM

If the Chinese can just fly their gerbils to Mexico then direct them across the border safely, these gerbils will receive free healthcare, free education, free food, free shelter, stay for as long as they want, and their babies born here will automatically become citizens...the same way we treat anyone who walk across the border.

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Bloomberg Businessweek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies.

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