Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, is applauding China’s efforts to improve food safety, but is concerned about human health issues stemming from soil contamination, according to an interview published by Xinhua, official state Chinese media.
“We have seen a lot of improvements in China but there is much more to be done,” said Graziano da Silva. “We’re concerned about pollution in general,” he said, noting that food safety does not only require less use of fertilizers but also better management of water resources, Xinhua reported.
Last month, three rice mills in Hunan Province were investigated by Chinese authorities after it was discovered the products contained excessive levels of cadmium, a pollutant that is a carcinogen.
Xinhua reported that a widespread inspection of rice products found that more than 44 percent of the rice in Guangzhou also contained excessive amounts of cadmium.
“Although the source of the pollutants has not yet been found, heavy metal contained in fertilizers has contaminated irrigation water and arable land,” the paper reported.
“Soil contamination and food safety problems are inevitable and are bound to occur in high-growth countries,” said Merritt Cluff, an FAO economist. “China is unique in the respect that land and water scarcity make difficult combinations. Some other countries may have experienced a similar period, but they did not have such high growth pressure.”
Gaziano da Silva recommended that the Chinese government strictly control the use of pesticides and fertilizers, according to Xinhua. “There is also the issue of consumers rejecting food products that are not up to standard,” he added.© Food Safety News