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Farmers Urged to Adopt Top Norms
The Standardization Administration of China Tuesday urged the country's farmers to adhere to national food standards to improve quality and increase exports.

Li Zhonghai, chief of the administration, told a teleconference in Beijing that China is speeding up the application of agricultural standards.

Both Li's agency and the Ministry of Agriculture are developing a system of national standards that promises to guarantee food safety and quality in agricultural production.

By 2005, half of the country's agricultural standards will be on a par with internationally established advanced standards, thus significantly raising the level of China's agricultural standards, Li said.

By the end of last year, China had issued 3,929 agricultural standards. Only one-fifth of them had been adopted from international standards, according to Li's agency.

Producing and processing farm produce in line with established standards has helped farmers adopt advanced agricultural techniques and increase their incomes, Li said.

Officials and experts have increasingly blamed the country's poor quality of products and slow export growth largely on a low level of standards, rather than on backward equipment and expertise.

For example, traces of pesticide residue were cited as one of the reasons why the European Union banned some meat and seafood products from China last year.

China's standards include 484 pesticide residue limits, a number that represents only 2.2 percent of the total listed by the EU, Li said.

In drawing up Chinese agricultural standards, the authorities will refer to the resources of the food standards body Codex Alimentarius Commission, the animal-health organization Office International des Epizooties and the Integrated Plant Protection Center of the United States.

In the formulation and adoption of agricultural standards, the focus will be on those relating to harmful residue limits for pesticides, feed additives and veterinary medicine, and the appropriate testing methods, Li said.

Vice-Minister of Agriculture Fan Xiaojian Tuesday said China has issued 195 new standards over the past two years to ensure that a whole batch of key agricultural products is contamination-free.

In line with these standards, the ministry and the Certification and Accreditation Administration of China last week announced a list of 214 - including fruit, vegetables and fish - that can be labeled "eco-friendly" and safe for consumption.

Han Jun, a senior expert with the State Council Development Research Center, a government think-tank, said massive publicity is needed to inform more than 200 million farming households in China of the new and proposed standards, including the benefits they can expect from their implementation.

(China Daily June 11, 2003)

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