Fruit fans create a stink over odourless durian

By Jess Halliday

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Southeast asia Agriculture

A scientist in Thailand has reported success in a decades-long
quest to produce an odourless variety of the infamous durian fruit
- but aficionados claim this amounts to removal of fruit's most
appealing quality.

The green, spiky durian fruit, native to South East Asia, is widely thought to be the smelliest in the world. The odour it gives off when ripe has been compared to garbage, dirty laundry and dead cats, and is so pungent that it the fruit it banned in many hotels and some airlines. Dr Songpol Somsri, senior agricultural scientist at the Horticulture Research Institute of Thailand's Department of Agriculture, said this week that through an extensive cross-breeding programme involving 90 varieties he has finally created a variety of the fruit with a smell no more offensive than that of a banana. According to the New York Times, the new fruit, dubbed Chantadubi Number One after Dr Somsri's home town, is expected to obtain final approval in the coming weeks from Thailand's Ministry of Agriculture. While the innovation may persuade more people to try the durian - both intrepid tourists and consumers in importing countries - so far it has met with an unfavourable reaction from durian purists. They say that smellier the durian the better its taste, and when you get used to the smell it really isn't that bad. What is more, in Asian markets the stronger the smell of the durian the higher the price it commands. Dr Somsri is reportedly continuing his research into the fruit, striving to breed a spikeless variety and mapping the DNA so that he may, one day, be able to identify the gene responsible for the smell. Thailand is the world's biggest producer of the green spikey fruit. The New York Times cited figures that Thailand last year sold about 50 million durians abroad, worth about $90 million. The durian is best known for its distinctive smell, but it is also a source of several beneficial nutrients and is reputed to be an aphrodisiac.

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