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Wealthy Chinese Are Pursuing Their Own Food Safety

Wealthy Chinese Are Pursuing Their Own Food Safety

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Published by William J Greenberg
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Published by: William J Greenberg on Dec 30, 2010
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Wealthy Chinese Are Pursuing Their Own Food SafetyBy He Qinglian
Dec 8, 2010
Last Updated:
Dec 9, 2010Facebook Digg StumbleUpon Twitter| |Related articles:Opinion>Thinking About China  Growing vegetables to become more self-sufficient has become popular in Chinarecently, but the newcomer growers have not been farmers. Instead, they havebeen wealthy people and those with social statusthe kind of people that ownvillas. Advertising billboards such as buy a house and get free farm land haveappeared in Chongqing, Changsha, Shenyang, Wuhan, Zhuhai and more. Realestate agents have taken inspiration from the phenomenon of vegetable self-supply bases, which in the past two years has been spreading widely acrossChina.Who has helped to popularize and promulgate these vegetable self-supply bases?Local institutions with economic strength, such as provincial governmentdepartments, large state-owned enterprises, financial institutions, as well as somephilanthropic private enterprises and publicly listed companies. They spend largesums to rent land parcels of various sizes in the suburbs, transforming them intoself-supply food bases.One would be mistaken to think that these institutions do this to encourage theirstaff go to the suburbs to plant vegetables as a casual weekend form of recreation. An article entitled Some institutions and state-owned enterprises areoperating vegetable self-supply bases out of worry for food safety was publishedon Peoples Daily Online. It made it clear that Chinese people are deeply worriedabout food safety, as contaminated and poisonous food is rampant in Chinatoday. In fact, government organizations and state-owned enterprises are usingpublic funds to secure food safety for their own sectors.
In recent years, Chinese people have fought hard but ineffectively against poorfood safety standards. There are simply too many tainted foods, from raw foodproducts to cooking oil and food utensils. Waste oil, toxic chopsticks, and toxiclunch boxes can still be cleaned up, but there are three sources of poisoningwhich are most difficult to handle.The first is that the farmers adopt high tech methods in growing crops. There iswidespread application of pesticides and fertilizers in the conventionalagricultural industry, and antibiotics and hormones are widely used in raisinglivestock. Fresh water and coastal aquatic products have been contaminated. Ihad even heard when I was living in China that farmers grow crops or raiselivestock for their own consumption, separately from the products they sell, tokeep from poisoning themselves.Related Articles
Toxic Foods, Drugs, and Toys Continue to Flow From China 
Toxic Levels of Manganese Found in Guangdong Tap Water The second source comes from food processing. To cut costs, companies use largequantities of food additives and chemicals. The addition of melamine to milkpowder to give the appearance of enhanced protein content is just one example.The third source is rooted in Chinas seriously polluted environment. According toan analysis by Chinas Ministry of Environmental Protection, the area of farmlandpolluted by cadmium, arsenic, chromium and lead has reached 20 millionhectares (approximately 49 million acres)about one-fifth of Chinas total. Foodpoisoned by heavy metal is estimated at 12 million tons each year. (These foodsare all consumed, with a small portion even exported.)The rampant flooding of tainted food in the market is a result of manufacturerscompletely disregarding ethical responsibilities, the government abandoning itsrole as regulator, and an absence of trust in the market.
The high degree of corruption in the government deserves particularcondemnation. Because supervision departments compete among themselves touse their power to seek profit, they have turned safety inspection into a fight forprofit and distribution of benefits, having eventually reached such a pitiful state of incompetency that several departments cannot even manage a pig, and dozensof departments cannot even manage food on a dining table, as its said. Facedwith a flood of toxic food, the regimes inept quality and safety watchdog has toresort to lies to deceive people, claiming that China has a higher than 90 percentfood qualification rate.Government institutions that have spent a large amount of money to operatevegetable self-supply bases got their inspiration from the special food supplybases for State Council and State organizations. After the Sanlu contaminatedmilk powder incident was exposed in 2008, a message was found on the websiteof a company within China, which said that in April 2005 the Special Food SupplyCenter for State Council and State Organizations was officially established.In an authorization ceremony of special food provisions for governmentorganizations held in Jinan City, Shandong Province on Aug. 18 of the same year,its director Zhu Yonglan disclosed that the center not only selects, evaluates andauthorizes the production of designated special products for veteran cadres of 94ministries and commissions, but also provides high quality organic food productsto government officials from its supply bases that span over 13 provinces. Thesupply bases received support from the State Council Logistics Base, CentralSecurity Bureau farms, and the Armed Police Frontier Logistics Base.After this message was circulated widely via the Internet, some Chinese citizensbegan to realize that the food their central government leaders eat came fromdifferent sources than their own. Is it no wonder then, that those leaders are notworried about food safety, and are not paying attention to its supervision? As thismessage was obviously too detrimental to the glorious image of the Party andthe government, the company website that carried the message deleted it soonafterwards. The Chinese regime also came out to refute the rumor. On Sept. 25,

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