"Food safety has become a serious problem in China. If measures are not taken to resolve it, we will find that many people will be unable to have children in the next 50 years," warned Zhong Nanshan, a noted medical expert.
Zhong expressed these concerns recently in a group discussion of the Municipal People's Congress of Guangzhou, the capital of south China's Guangdong Province. Zhong pointed out that there has been a rapid increase in occurrences of a few diseases that are closely associated with food contaminants.
In recent years, Guangzhou has seen a comparatively high number of intestinal, cervical and ovarian cancer cases, all three of which are closely linked with excessive employment of pesticides, preservatives and ripening accelerators.
There have been reports that farmers clearing silt from fishponds also cover the bottoms of the ponds with a sheet of Ciprofloxacin. The drug not only plays a role in prevention of fish diseases, but also acts as a growth accelerator. Food contaminated with this drug is extremely harmful to human health, reported Zhong.
Male infertility appears to be a growing problem. Forty years ago, a sperm count of 50 to 100 million was considered normal. At present this figure has dropped to just 30 million.
Zhong Nanshan suggested broadening the functions and authority of food and drug administrators to empower them to ensure food safety.
Zhong pointed out that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is given enforcement authority, while the Chinese counterpart is merely a coordinating body with severely restricted functions.
Zhong Nanshan expressed his hope that Guangzhou, as an enlightened and progressive city, would not blindly follow unreasonable trends or remain passive on this issue until forced to act.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Tingting April 1, 2004)