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Chinese Imports

Chinese Imports

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In the last year, thousands of people worldwide have fallen sick from eating unsafe
food produced in China. Lax inspections abroad and at home mean that Chinese
food producers have relied on dangerous additives, fertilizers and pesticides, leaving
consumers to contend with the dangerous residue of China’s unregulated food production system.
In the last year, thousands of people worldwide have fallen sick from eating unsafe
food produced in China. Lax inspections abroad and at home mean that Chinese
food producers have relied on dangerous additives, fertilizers and pesticides, leaving
consumers to contend with the dangerous residue of China’s unregulated food production system.

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Published by: Food and Water Watch on Apr 13, 2009
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04/05/2013

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Chinese Imports
 And consumes ae gowing weay of he neveendingscandals suounding impos fom China, fom aineddog food, o cooies laced wih melamine, o he is-ing incidence of avian flu. A cusoy loo a newspapeheadlines fom any given monh eveals he gaviy andubiquiy of food safey poblems in China:JAkArtA (
The Jakarta Post 
) – ten of 28 foodpoducs impoed fom China conain he oxicsubsance melamine, laboaoy ess by he Indone-sian Consumes’ Foundaion and he Univesiy of Indonesia (UI) have evealed.
1
BEIJING (
 Reuters
) – the impac of bid flu and heeconomic slowdown may have cu China’s pouly numbes by abou a hid o moe in he las monh,execuives in he pouly feed indusy said on tues-day.
2
BEIJING (
 New York Times
) – Seveny esidens of souhen China have been sicened afe eaing pigogans conaminaed wih a banned meabolismacceleao, saemedia epoed Monday, in he laes in a seies of lapses ha have sied inenaional concen abouChina’s conol ove food safey.
3
BEIJING (
 New York Times
) – Since Sepembe,inspecos have found melamine conaminaion inhe mil poducs of 22 Chinese companies believedo have sicened almos 300,000 childen and illedsix. the scandal pomped a global ecall of poducsmade wih Chinese daiy ingediens.
4
 As he headlines pou in, so do he impos fom China— in unpecedened numbes. In he las five yeas,he value of agiculual impos fom China o heUnied Saes has moe han doubled. And beween2007 and 2008, he value of consume-oiened agicul-ual impos lie nus, fui juices and fesh vegeablesinceased moe han 20 pecen, fom $2,000,000,000o $2,500,000,000.
5
Seafood impos sand a similanumbes.
6
China cuenly poduces moe han a hidof he wold’s fuis and vegeables and moe han half of he wold’s po.
7
 Bu China’s massive agiculual poducion and expo of cheap food poducs comes a a pice o food safey —and U.S. egulaos ae no up o he job of poec-ing consumes.In he las yea, he U.S. Food and Dug Adminis-aion efused nealy 2,000 shipmens of Chi-nese impos. In Januay 2009 alone, inspec-os efused 174 Chinese poducs, including30 ha wee believed o conain melamine
8
— a widely used chemical addiive in China
9
ha FDA disallows in all bu ace amouns in food iemssold in he Unied Saes.
10
 
I
n he las yea, housands of people woldwide have fallen sic fom eaing unsafefood poduced in China. Lax inspecions aboad and a home mean ha Chinesefood poduces have elied on dangeous addiives, feilizes and pesicides, leavingconsumes o conend wih he dangeous esidue of China’s unegulaed food po-ducion sysem.
FOOD
 
On he face of i, FDA’s efusal of Chinese impos shouldgive consumes a measue of elief. Bu in ealiy, FDA only manages o inspec a iny facion of impoed pod-ucs, aound one pecen, meaning a fa geae numbeof impos avel hough he U.S. bode and ono go-cey shelves uninspeced.
11
Seveely undefunded and dangeously ovebudened,FDA is woefully ill-equipped o ae on he ass assignedo he agency, which include monioing he safey of poducs ha mae up 20 pecen of he enie economy and an esimaed 80 pecen of he food Ameicans ea.
12
 Included in hose numbes ae aound $5 billion wohof food impos fom China, found in evey aisle of ougocey soes.
13
  While food impos suge, FDA has los aound 80pecen of is field inspecion pesonnel, due lagely o a decline in govenmen funding ove he las heedecades.
14
A subcommiee of he agency’s own scienceadvisoy boad called he FDA’s inspecion aes “appall-ingly low… A mos, i inspecs food manufacues onceevey 10 yeas.”
15
 the epo goes on o sae ha he “FDA’s abiliy o po- vide is basic food sysem inspecion, enfocemen andulemaing funcions is seveely eoded, as is is abiliy oespond o oubeas in a imely manne and o developand eep pace wih he new egulaoy science.”
16
Post Hoc Regulator
Because FDA lacs he esouces o effecively cay ousafey inspecions, he agency seves as a eacive egula-o, ofen waiing fo illness o deah o sie befoe i begins an invesigaion o issues wanings and ecalls.In Sepembe of 2008, Canadian food inspecos is-sued a ecall on Chinese-made “koala’s Mach” cooies when hey wee idenified as conaining unsafe levels of melamine.
17
  A widely used chemical in animal feed and some humanfoods in China, melamine disingenuously gives foodpoducs he appeaance of high poein levels, allowing waeed-down daiy poducs, fo example, o pass qual-iy ess.
18
two wees afe Canada issued a ecall of he cooies,FDA was elucan o mae a simila sand even as pes-sue fom he public and he media was mouning — andhe cooies coninued o sell in gocey soes acoss hecouny.
19
 Evenually he Alabama Depamen of Agiculue oo maes in hei own hands and issued a public waningabou he cooies.
20
 thee wees afe he Canadian ecall, duing which imean unnown numbe of cooies wee bough and eaen by consumes, FDA finally issued a ecall.
21
 As he many ained-food scandals show, China’s inspec-ion pocess canno guaanee ha i can enfoce U.S.food safey sandads. the Chinese govenmen hasissued a public saemen o his effec, saing, “as adeveloping couny, China’s cuen food and dug safey siuaion is no vey saisfacoy because supevision of food and dug safey saed lae, is foundaion is wea so he supevision of food and dug safey is no easy.”
22
In he las five yeas, an explosion of Chinese food im-pos o Ameica has included ained seafood, dog food,and pocessed foods and also scoes of poisonous non-food aicles, lie oohpase, childen’s oys and pha-maceuicals. the Chinese govenmen has espondedo hese food safey poblems wih boh esisance andpomises of inceased egulaions, he mos ecen of  which was he esablishmen of a govenmen food safey 
 
commission.
23
Howeve, he enomiy of China as foodpoduce, including an esimaed 900,000 individualfood-pocessing plans,
24
and he coninued, apid gowhof he couny’s food poducion, indicae ha much lag-e efoms ae needed wihin China’s egulaoy sucueo ensue food safey.
25
 Meanwhile, FDA inspecos lac he esouces o pic uphe slac, and as a esul, dangeous impos flood in hecouny uncheced, puing consumes a is. Inceasinghe funding o FDA and amping up inspecions ae cucialseps o ensue ha he food we ea is safe and wholesome.Howeve, anohe poweful foce is woing agains heegulaion of Chinese food impos — he Wold tadeOganizaion.
 Putting Trade Promotion BeforePublic Health
China joined he Wold tade Oganizaion in 2001, wel-comed by companies in he U.S. who envisioned a feeflow of Ameican expos ino China and he coninuedimpoaion of cheap poducs o Ameican consumes.the Office of he Unied Saes tade repesenaives boased o Congess in Decembe 2008 ha U.S. exposo China have inceased 240 pecen since 2001, laud-ing he new ade ageemen wih one small cavea foagiculual poducs.
26
 “China emains among he leas anspaen and pedic-able of he wold’s majo maes fo agiculual pod-ucs, lagely because of selecive inevenion in he ma-e by China’s egulaoy auhoiies,” he epo saed.
27
 Hee, UStr is concened abou egulaions only insofaas hey can a imes be “capicious” and “bedevil” Amei-can ades aemping o capialize on he enomous con-sume mae in China.
28
Absen fom he UStr epois any menion of he egulaoy deficiencies in Chinaha bedevil Ameican consumes, who buy and consumeChinese impos eveyday.robe B. Cassidy, a fome govenmen official in UStr, was quoed in he Washingon Pos in 2007 sayingha “so many U.S. companies ae diecly o indiecly involved in China now, he commecial inees of heUnied Saes hese days has become o allow impos ocome in as quicly and smoohly as possible,” which hasesuled in he US “owowing o China” despie conin-ued poblems wih food safey.
29
China’s food safey poblems go beyond chemical adul-eans in food pocessing, oo. USDA epos, “Chinesefuis and vegeables ofen have high levels of pesicideesidues, heavy meals and ohe conaminans. Wae,soil, and ai ae dangeously pollued in many ual aeasas a esul of heavy indusializaion and lax envionmen-al egulaion.”
30
Impoed poduce has been shown o be hee imes moeliely o conain he illness-causing baceia
 Salmonella
 and
 Shigella
han domesic poduce.
31
Addiionally, FDA found ha impoed fuis and vegeables wee wo ofou imes as liely o have illegal levels of pesicide esi-dues as domesic fuis and vegeables.
32
FDA lacs he capaciy o effecively monio he qual-iy and safey of Chinese impos, which included $100million of fesh fuis and vegeables in 2008 and aound$1.5 billion woh of juices and pocessed fuis and veg-eables.
33
Liewise, FDA has done lile o cuail imposof poduce o Chinese daiy poducs, which ae impoedfeely unde he WtO ade ageemen. When i was evealed las yea ha Chinese-made baby fomula laced wih melamine was causing infan deahs,nine counies, including Canada and Ausalia, empo-aily banned impos of Chinese daiy poducs,
34
send-ing a clea message o China ha is food safey poblems will no be oleaed. Consume goups in he U.S. unsuc-cessfully called on lawmaes o ae simila measues.Because of he WtO and he huge volume of ade be-ween he US and China, i is difficul fo he US o insi-ue moaoiums, bans and even amped-up inspecions wihou invoing sancions fom he WtO, which viewssuch measues as aificial ade baies. Such baies violae a diving foce behind he WtO — he fee flow of goods, no mae he cos o consume safey. In his way, he WtO ceaes anohe obsacle beween consum-es and safe food. As jus one example, in Mach of his yea, China com-plained o he WtO abou he Unied Saes’ ban on heimpoaion of Chinese pouly, a measue he U.S. oo on he gounds ha Chinese pouly is poduced in anunsafe manne.
35
In esponse, China has claimed ha he ban “violaes he basic ules of he WtO,”
36
and he coun-y coninues o use is leveage unde he ade agee-men o compel he U.S. o econside he ban.

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