Legend holds that oysters are nature's foremost aphrodisiac, but an Australian oyster farmer is pumping up his crop with a more modern libido...

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NEW ORLEANS — Legend holds that oysters are nature’s foremost aphrodisiac, but an Australian oyster farmer is pumping up his crop with a more modern libido booster: Viagra.

Word of the so-called “Viagra Oysters,” stored in tanks full of the crushed-up erectile-dysfunction drug, made global headlines last week and raised health concerns.

In Louisiana, which produces more oysters than any other state in the United States, industry representatives wonder why the additive is needed for an already-sensual shellfish.

“You don’t need Viagra in our oysters over here; they work,” said Mike Voisin, an oyster distributor in Houma and chairman of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force. “It’s the Cajun Viagra.”

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Voisin shipped five dozen Louisiana oysters in dry ice last Friday to Australia’s minister of health and aging, Tony Abbott. As of midday Tuesday, Abbott’s office said it had not received the oysters and wasn’t sure whether they would make it through Australian customs.

George May, the brains behind the souped-up oysters from Down Under, said the Louisiana ploy springs from jealousy over his invention.

“The bloody things work,” May said from his office in Patonga Beach, a fishing village north of Sydney whose name means “oyster” in an Aboriginal language. “If they’re selling 1,000 Louisiana oysters a week, they’ll sell 10,000 a week if they’ve got Viagra.”

May, 59, thought up the oyster venture after taking small amounts of the drug while recovering from prostate cancer surgery last year. He was farming and selling oysters as a hobby, and he called them a “natural Viagra” during a sales pitch.

He realized he had some Viagra in his pocket, and the rest is history.

However, May’s oysters also are stirring health and legal concerns. He admits he won’t be able to sell the mollusks in Australia because of prescription-drug regulations, but he says there is endless potential in Asian markets, where restrictions are more lax.

May said Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, threatened a lawsuit but ultimately backed down.

Pfizer officials did not return numerous calls seeking comment.