Monday, July 18, 2011

China bans 10 toxic pesticides after multiple food scares

Toxic pesticides can affect human health.
Exposure to chemicals and pesticides in particular has been linked to a variety of health problems.

Some, such as the organophosphates and carbamates, affect the nervous system. Others may irritate the skin or eyes. Some pesticides may be carcinogens. Others may affect the hormone or endocrine system in the body. EPA's human health risk assessments for many pesticides are available on the web. 

In essence, the level of risk is dependent on the level of toxicity and exposure.

Many countries have banned some of the most toxic pesticides, as their risks outweigh any positive associations they may have. Now China adds 10 more pesticides to its list.

Food safety concerns linked to pesticides

A recent China Daily article says that China is banning 10 types of highly toxic pesticide in response to growing concern about the safety of agricultural products because of the misuse of such chemicals, quoting the country's top crop production officials.

The withdrawal of registration certificates and production licenses connected to the 10 pesticides - including fenamiphos and fonofos - will take effect on Oct 31 and the sale and use of the chemicals will be outlawed from Oct 31, 2013, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Agriculture.

The announcement was based on a plan for the elimination of highly toxic pesticides jointly drafted by the ministry and four other departments.

It is a significant step for China, since China is the world's largest pesticide producer and consumer. Production hit 2.26 million tons in 2009, according to figures from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The move to the bans came after incidents involving pesticide misuse have created concern among the public about the safety of food.

In February 2010, many provinces banned the sale of cowpeas that had been grown in South China's Hainan province because high levels of the toxic pesticide isocarbophos were detected.

In April 2010, nine residents in Qingdao, East China's Shandong province, were poisoned after eating toxic garlic that had been polluted with organic phosphorus.

More training, information needed, officials say

The country launched a campaign to manage the use of highly toxic pesticides in the 1980s. So far, 23 types of highly toxic pesticide have been banned and 19 others must not be used on fruit and vegetables, statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture show.

China currently has 22 types of highly toxic pesticide registered, of which 50,000 tons are produced each year, accounting for 2.5 percent of the country's annual total pesticide production, official figures showed.

Lu Bu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, urged local governments to provide more training to farmers about pesticide use.

"Many farmers believe highly toxic pesticides are useful and do not realize that there are also possible dangers associated with their misuse," he said.

Source: China Daily 

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