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June 17, 2013

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Food safety official in pesticides warning

STATE standards for pesticide residue lag far behind those of developed countries and are putting health at risk, according to a senior official with China's food safety watchdog.

China's mainland has limits on residue from 667 pesticides, while Japan has limits on some 62,000, said Xu Minghuan, of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

He said the mainland's residue standards were also lower than those in Hong Kong which has limits on some 6,100 pesticides, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, the amount of fertilizer and other additives allowed on farm produce were about two times higher than international standards.

Tests for pesticide residue on the mainland were also failing as nearly 60 percent of 2,200 food additives and residues that pose a risk to health could not be detected, Xu said.

Low standards and poor detection technology had a huge impact on exports, he added.

Japan, for example, had increased the number of banned pesticides and additives to 797 from the former 63 on vegetables from the Chinese mainland. It also set some 50,000 standards on all kinds of chemical residue. Residue must be no more than 0.01 milligrams per kilogram on produce.

Xu said such strict stipulations had affected some 30 percent of China's agricultural exports, or about 6,000 Chinese companies and the income of Chinese farmers, he said.

To solve the problem, Xu said the country should first improve its detection technology.

He said the country's land resources authority had begun monitoring soil quality to curb the amount of polluted farmland, but an evaluation mechanism should also be set up to monitor and record all potential sources of pollution.

Last year, it was reported that red wine from three domestic makers contained excessive levels of two pesticides, carbendazim and metalaxyl. But the Ministry of Health later said the amount was below the country's limits.


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