Agricultural officials and experts called upon farmers to stop the casual use of pesticides on their farm produce during a workshop on food safety yesterday in Beijing.
To protect the health of China's population, a system with strict quality standards for farm products must be established to encourage moderation in the use of chemicals. Vegetables with high levels of chemical residue will be banned and violators will be punished severely, said Li Baoguo, president of the China Association of Quality Inspection.
The scheme would help improve the competitiveness of China's agricultural products in world markets, the experts maintained.
According to Li, in the past when a planned economy was in place, farmers grew no more vegetables than needed and thus the use of chemicals was not very important.
Today however, farmers have to do everything possible to lure buyers due to fierce market competition, which often results in the overuse of chemicals because vegetables sprayed with pesticides appear more attractive.
Therefore, more and more poisons accumulate on farm products, which in turn are absorbed by consumers, leading to many serious diseases such as female menopausal disorders, sexual precocity in children and impotence for men, Li said.
Fortunately, the problem of food contamination has drawn the attention of the Ministry of Agriculture, which has decided to ban the use of five types of supertoxic chemicals. It has also begun subsidizing costs for testing the level of residual chemicals on farm products by many large wholesale markets.
(China Daily April 11, 2002)